On Tuesday, a day when Kehde’s BBQ is usually closed, the local restaurant was packed with people ready for a fish fry to benefit pediatric cancer research.
Fryin’ For Rhyan was hosted Tuesday night as part of #RallyForRhyan. Six-year-old Rhyan Loos, daughter of University of Missouri Men’s Basketball Assistant Coach Brad Loos, was diagnosed with stage four neuroblastoma at the age of 5 in October 2015. Since then, Rhyan has been through several cancer treatments at the Women’s and Children’s Hospital in Columbia and at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.
Tuesday’s fundraising event featured a fish dinner with sides, plus a free ice cream cone from Dairy Queen, for a donation toward pediatric cancer research.
“When Steve Bloess (who helped organize the event) called me back in November and told me about having a fish fry, I thought we’d have about 20 guys in his backyard, eating fish and drinking beer. I never in my wildest dreams pictured this. This is amazing,” Loos said. “It really says a lot about Sedalia and the people in Sedalia and just how big their hearts really are.”
Kehde’s BBQ owner John Kehde opened his restaurant on a day it’s usually closed, plus provided much of the food for the event. His staff also volunteered their time to serve and cook on their day off.
“I bleed black and gold, I’m a University of Missouri fan, and of course (Coach) Kim Anderson is special to Sedalia and the fact that Coach Loos’ daughter has pediatric cancer, they were appealing to Missouri and Columbia that this pediatric research is needed,” Kehde said. “A group of us thought we’d get together and see if we could raise some money. I think it’s been successful.”
While the idea for the event came from #RallyForRhyan, it was also to help raise awareness of pediatric cancer. Brad previously told the Democrat that research is “incredibly underfunded,” but that almost $250,000 has been raised for pediatric cancer research through #RallyForRhyan events across the country. Final numbers weren’t available at press time regarding the success of Tuesday’s fish fry, but Kehde’s was constantly busy and almost every seat outside was filled.
“We’re thankful and appreciative to the Sedalia community for coming out and opening their hearts to us,” Brad said as cars driving down South Limit Avenue honked for “Honk 4 Rhyan” signs held by State Fair Community College cheerleaders. “I feel we’ve really done some good here and I feel like this money’s going toward a great cause.”
While the Loos family isn’t from Sedalia, Brad coached with Kim Anderson, a Sedalia native, at the University of Central Missouri for 12 years and joined him at MU a few years ago. Anderson and a large portion of the Mizzou men’s basketball staff made the drive from Columbia for the event.
Loos said Sedalia has “adopted our family,” and both Anderson and Loos said it was good to be home in Sedalia for a #RallyForRhyan event.
“It’s an unbelievable turnout. I grew up in this town and people are so generous,” Anderson said. “I’m grateful for everyone who came out tonight, I know Brad and Jen and Rhyan and their family are grateful too. All these people came out to support Rhyan, it also raises awareness for pediatric cancer.”
Rhyan is in between cancer treatments and her dad said she’s feeling better these days.
“She’s doing really good, she probably feels the best she’s felt since the start of this whole deal back in October,” he said. “The chemotherapy she’s just done is a gentler chemo in terms of the side effects. Her body’s feeling good and she needed this break. She needed to build herself back up. The next couple treatments will be tough so this has been good for her physically and mentally.”
For updates on Rhyan’s journey, visit Facebook.com/RallyforRhyan.
Nicole Cooke can be reached at 660-530-0138 or @NicoleRCooke.