by Corey Baumgartner
CEDAR CITY – It seemed like another normal day for Cedar High senior Derek Hoyt, but a cautionary trip to the doctor’s office after a bike accident changed his life forever. During his visit to the doctor to examine the severity of his injury, physicians found something much worse than a bruise or broken bone – it was discovered that Hoyt had Osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer.
The fight against any form of cancer is difficult, but thanks to Hoyt’s compassionate classmates and the community, that fight is going to be a lot stronger. Classmate Riley Juber, who knows Hoyt from their Future Business Leaders of America class, didn’t just send him condolences, he made a commitment to help in any way he could.
He presented the idea to his fellow classmates and they immediately were on board, though there were some initial hesitations.
“We set a goal to raise $2,000 and many of the kids in the class thought that was a very high amount,” Juber said. “It was very stressful, worrying how many people were going to show up.”
Along with friend Kaleigh Bronson and FBLA teacher Terri Sanders, Juber began to tackle the challenge ahead, literally.
On May 11, Cedar High hosted a flag football game as part of the Tackle Cancer Benefit to help with Hoyt’s medical expenses. But this would be more than just a game. Every tackle and touchdown was a personal battle cry against cancer in Hoyt’s honor.
Having been released from the hospital the day before, Hoyt made a brief appearance at the game on the sidelines. But that’s just the kind of strength Hoyt has.
Juber recalled hearing a conversation about the possibility of Hoyt having to have his legs amputated. His courageous response should resonate with anyone having challenges. “It’s OK; I don’t need my legs to be a computer programmer anyway.”
While not everyone knew Hoyt personally, Juber said, “Our whole school and community didn’t care who it was. They came out and supported anyway. It really says a lot about the environment that Southern Utah has.”
Even those who couldn’t attend the game still showed their support. During halftime, a special letter written to Hoyt was read by friend Chloe Wilson. The letter was written by CHS sophomore Raquel Wilson, who couldn’t be there because she is waging her own brave battle with leukemia.
She encouraged Hoyt to remember that, “Having cancer is a scary, debilitating and discouraging thing, but I never thought I was alone.” She added, “I hope you feel that way too and realize how many people love and support you Derek.”
Later in the week Hoyt was presented with a check for the money raised at the event.
“When we presented the check to Derek you could see in his eye that he was amazed we did this and overall pulled this off,” said Juber, who along with his classmates, raised $5,500.00 during the event. “Overall it came down to a wonderful community coming out to support a fellow member. (I) couldn’t have asked anything else from my peers or community.”