Tonawanda News — When Ryan Osborn was diagnosed with cancer at age 10, he had to fight the urge to waste away on the couch.
Osborn had Langerhans cell histiocytosis, a rare disease that is believed to arise from disturbances in regulation of the immune system, and it was hard not to feel sorry for himself; that is until he found football and Tyvaier Jones.
“Tyvaier was a very close friend of mine,” Osborn said. “We had a lot in common. We were both teenage boys going through the treatment, and a lot of what I do today is driven my him. My experiences are altered by the idea of knowing I had a great friend who didn’t make it to experience it himself.”
Jones died in 2009 after going through chemotherapy with Osborne for about a year, and ever since then Ryan and his family have celebrated Tyvaier’s life by participating in the annual Hospice Memorial Walk. Osborn was joined by 11 members of the North Tonawanda football team, NT coach Tony Truilizio and members of the NT community on Sunday at Sable Park in Buffalo to continue the four-year tradition.
Osborn, a lineman for the Lumberjacks, got sick at the most inopportune time: the first year he was eligible to play football. He was looking forward to getting out on the field because he had been too big to play pee wee.
After waiting so long to join his friends on the field, it was tough to watch from the sidelines.
“I was really looking forward to it because I was too big of a kid to play on little league,” he said. “During the treatment you’re so sick, the coaches were really great and teammates were really great — I still came to some practices — but I couldn’t really participate.