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Events honor student's commitment to health

By DAWNE LEIKER and DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN

dleiker@dailynews.net

dobrien@dailynews.net

Local university students and other community members are hoping for a big turnout for two events involving a college student who died last month.

Saturday's event -- in honor of Shane Gottschalk, a 21-year-old Fort Hays State University student who died Nov. 19, slightly more than a year after being diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma -- has been designated ShaneSTRONG Fit Day at the Fort Hays Wellness Center in Gross Memorial Coliseum.

Monday, there will be a Driven for the Cure National Marrow Donor Registry event from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the Black and Gold Room of FHSU's Memorial Union. The drive is sponsored by FHSU's Up 'til Dawn.

"(Gottschalk) came to us saying there was a need," said Megan Colson, co-director of Up 'til Dawn. "When I talked to him the first time, he said, 'You don't know how excited I am about this (marrow registry event), knowing how many lives it could save.'

"So we jumped on board and said, 'If you want to do it, we want to do it.' "

Saturday's ShaneSTRONG event is set to begin at 9 a.m. and will involve several workouts at the wellness center where Gottschalk, a health and human performance major at Fort Hays, frequently worked out.

"Health and wellness was a big part of his life," said Mike Howell, a former teacher of Gottschalk's at Thomas More Prep-Marian High School, from where Gottschalk graduated in 2009.

"He was a champion and a fighter, and he found working out really enjoyable," added Howell, one of the organizers of ShaneSTRONG. "So we're going to work out (Saturday) in his memory."

There will be opening remarks at 9 a.m., followed by running and walking around the indoor track at GMC, Zumba, a "boot camp" at 10 and a crossfit "Hero" workout at 11 that will include lifting, pull-ups and running.

Registration, which will include a T-shirt, will be at the door with freewill donations.

"We would like to make this into a preregistration event and see it grow," Howell said. "But this year, with the timing, we just want to get it started. If you want to do so many bench presses in his memory, that's good. If you want to come walk and support and share stories about Shane, and the fellowship, that's OK, too."

People will be able to enter at Gates 1 and 2 of GMC.

Monday's Be the Match event is a drive for participants to register for the National Marrow Donor Program. Thousands of patients with blood cancers such as leukemia, lymphoma, sickle cell and other life-threatening diseases use the Be the Match registry as a resource for finding marrow donors.

The event, which is organized in conjunction with FHSU's Student Health Center, is open to community members between the ages of 18 and 44. The registration process will take approximately 30 minutes and involves filling out paperwork and having a cell sample taken through a cheek swab.

More information regarding the program is available at www.marrow.org.

"Shane held a huge place in our hearts and so many people on campus and in the community," Colson said. "It would really show how much they cared for Shane if they came out and did something like this.

"Just give a little bit of their time, because, although Shane has passed away, it could save so many lives."

Up 'til Dawn members raise funds for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital and have brought a local focus to their efforts in the last two years.

An event last December raised funds for Gottschalk's treatment. Efforts to reach the local community are ongoing.

"It's really helped us build a lot of relationships with different types of patient families," Colson said. "For our group, it's really brought it back home how important it is to advocate for those types of things like childhood cancer and other diseases."

Local businesses and organizations such as Doerfler's Harley-Davidson, Auto World and Hays Medical Center also are providing support for the event.

"Shane rode a Harley, so Doerfler's wanted to be a part of it (the event)," said Jami Carlson, a member of Up 'til Dawn. "In support, they're bringing decorations.

"We're also going to have Shane's motorcycle there. Everything is Harley-themed, all orange and black."

Prizes for the event have been donated by local businesses. A special parking area will be set aside for motorcycles.