After Cuonzo Martin took charge of the Missouri basketball program, a former Tigers assistant coach visited him in his office.
Brad Loos had shifted into a new role with the Tiger Scholarship Fund, and when he met with Martin, the two men talked about their histories with cancer.
Loos’ father, Dave, once the basketball coach at Austin Peay, retired to fight the disease, and his daughter Rhyan has been battling pediatric cancer since late 2015. Martin is a survivor of advanced non-Hodgkin lymphoma that abruptly ended his playing career, and he still carries the weight of that experience with him more than 20 years later.
“Every day I look in the mirror, I see it,” Martin told The Star in October 2017. “I see the scars. … It’s a reality.”
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Martin told Loos he couldn’t imagine a child struggling through the same experience, and he offered to help the Loos family however he could. The most obvious way will happen Saturday, when Mizzou plays Mississippi State.
For the third year in a row, Missouri will host a game benefiting the Loos family’s Rally for Rhyan charity. Proceeds will go to pediatric cancer research.
Loos figured support would dwindle a bit after the first Rally for Rhyan game, in 2016. He knows that “lives go on” and people have their own problems.
But then the second rendition of the game raised even more than the first, approximately $54,000. Together, the two games combined to bring in more than $100,000.
Loos called the continued care the community has shown his family “extremely overwhelming and incredibly humbling.” He said he was even more emotional seeing the Mizzou community come together for the cause the second time.
People at Saturday’s game will be able to make cash donations on the concourse. There will also be a raffle and silent auction.
Rhyan will undergo another round of scans and treatment on Monday but currently shows no signs of disease — and she might enjoy the game in her honor more than she has in the past.
During the previous two games, her parents could barely get her to step onto the court in front of a crowd. But when the family stood on Faurot Field during Missouri’s football game against Auburn this past season, Rhyan was “waving to the crowd, eating it up,” her father said.
Now 7 years old, she is old enough to understand what her family is trying to do with its cause.
“By no means do we ever wish this on anyone, but she’s had such a positive effect and been able to raise so much awareness for pediatric research,” Loos said. “… There’s been a lot of good to come from this. It’s been neat to see that she can be that vehicle.”