Tonawanda News — Tyvaier Jones would have been a high school senior this year, but while he is not physically here to experience the joy of graduating with his peers, students at North Tonawanda High School are seeing to it that his memory is kept alive.
Jones died in 2009 after battling liver cancer. While undergoing treatment at Roswell Park he met another patient, Ryan Osborn, who was being treated for a rare condition called Langerhan's cell histiocytosis (LCH). The two boys became fast friends, discovering they had a lot in common besides being sick.
"Ryan was diagnosed in November of 2010, one of the first people he met at Roswell was Tyvaier," said Ryan's mother, Colleen Osborn. "(Tyvaier's) only goal was to graduate the eighth grade. He died two days after graduation."
When Tyvaier's mother, Nekia Kemp organized "Team Tyvaier" for the annual Hospice Memorial Walk, Ryan was instantly on board to help out. This will be the fifth year that the team will walk in the memory of a brave young man.
"I got involved when (Nekia) started a team in his name after I came off treatment," said the younger Osborn. "She contacted my mother and got me and a few friends to go the first year and now it's blossomed into our entire football team every year (participating) in memory of my friend and in support of his family."
He added that his friends on the football team jumped at the opportunity to help out. They went from three people participating to 26 in a single year.
Members of the football team proudly wear their football jerseys to show that the North Tonawanda High School Lumberjacks remember Jones. The boys took it upon themselves to reach out to their other friends and family members to participate. Kemp says that there are currently more than 60 people signed up for this year, not including the football team.