CLAFLIN — Life seemed normal this year for 18-year-old Bryce Steiner, Claflin. He was captain of the Central Plains football team, which his father coaches, and he is affectionately known as “Tiny” to all of his teammates and students at the school.
That was until he noticed pain in his knee this fall, which he thought was due to an injury. However, it was not due to injury, and during tests to find out what caused the pain, it was discovered Steiner has cancer (B-cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma). Steiner is undergoing chemotherapy at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, treatment that began last week.
Friends in the close-knit community immediately jumped into action to raise funds and support the family.
Fellow CPHS students Trey Heitschmidt got the idea of selling wrist bands, and working along with Bethany Oeser and Bethany’s mother, ordered 600. Those are already gone, and they have ordered another 600.
So far, $1,200 has been raised, and all of the proceeds will benefit Bryce. The first wrist bands arrived within a week.
The green wrist bands say “#TinysTeam.” The other side of the wrist band says “You Got This.”
Oeser, a junior, explained the reason for the words on the wrist band. “His nickname is Tiny. We’ve always called him Tiny.” The cost is $5 for the lime green wrist bands, and anyone interested in purchasing one may contact at 620-786-0895.
The diagnosis was a shock to everyone at the school. “Bryce is a people person,” said Oeser. “It hit all of us hard. The atmosphere was sad but supportive. We got closer.”
“Bryce is showing so much strength and poise,” said teacher Lisa Crites.
Plus, a majority of the boys in the school have shaved off their hair to show their support.
“We shaved our heads to support Bryce,” said Tanner Woolf, senior. “We went to Bryce’s and cut off all of our hair. Then we all took turns cutting off his hair.”
“This schools a lot like family,” added Woolf.
In addition, “the students wanted to have an Iron Man volleyball game,” said Sharon Cooper, teacher. The students had planned to have the boys play volleyball after the girls held a powder-puff football game.
“It just sort of developed,” into a fundraiser for Steiner, said Cooper.
The game will be played at 7 p.m. on Dec. 14 at the high school gym. The school hopes to live stream the game on their website.
Plus, a care package and goodie bag were organized for the family for travel and hospital time.
There is also a proposed benefit dinner and dance on Jan. 5. at the Claflin Community Center sponsored by the Oiler Youth Football Team.
Bryce is the first current student at CPHS to be diagnosed with cancer. The football player was named to the all-league, first-team defensive back; all-league honorable mention quarterback; all district outside line backer/cornerback; and all district honorable mention quarterback. He is the son of Chris and Tammie Steiner, Claflin.
Anyone wishing to contribute to the Bryce Steiner Fund may do so at any of the 1st Kansas Bank locations in Claflin, Hoisington or Great Bend.
Kans for Kids Fighting Cancer Foundation is also providing both financial and emotional support for Bryce and his family. Contributions to Kans for Kids may be sent to Kans for Kids, P.O. Box 178, Hoisington, KS 67544.