MILLER CITY — The Miller City-New Cleveland gymnasium was awash in orange Friday night.
One of their own, senior Sydney Snyder, was in need of support in her fight against leukemia. From the basketball players’ socks and shoelaces, to the cheerleaders’ hair bows and shoelaces, the fans’ shirts, the coaches’ shirts and ties, and even the opposing team’s shoelaces, nearly everyone was wearing orange.
Ross Kaufman, a senior basketball player on the MCNC squad, even wore orange tennis shoes.
“I bought ‘em special, just for this,” he said with a grin.
Snyder was diagnosed with leukemia Tuesday. She is currently a patient at the James Cancer Center, in Columbus. She had been in ICU, but was moved to a regular room last evening.
When the students learned of Snyder’s diagnosis, MCNC Technology Coordinator Dennis Mumaw spoke to them. Mumaw has been a cancer survivor for eight years.
“I told them how it will feel, and that they need to be there and be positive for Sydney. There are so many good treatments and good doctors out there,” he said.
Mumaw showed the group cards that fourth graders had sent him when he had been diagnosed; those elementary students are now seniors. He said the cards had meant so much to him that he kept them.
Two of Snyder’s best friends, Alli Verhoff and Meagan Giblin, stepped up and organized “A Shout Out for Sydney” at the MCNC varsity game against Ottoville.
“We want her to know that we’re thinking of her, and even though she can’t cheer with us, she’s with us,” Giblin said.
They got the word out that everyone should wear orange to the game, because that symbolizes the fight against leukemia.
Mumaw delivered a speech to the crowd between the first and second quarters of the varsity game.
“Many in this gymnasium are touched by cancer in some way,” he said.
He explained about Snyder’s diagnosis, and encouraged the audience to donate to her family to assist with expenses.
“We thank all of you on behalf of Sydney and her family for your support, and especially for your prayers," Mumaw said.
Tonight, students carried a blanket through the crowd at halftime to collect donations. They had crafted buttons with Sydney’s photo on them and sold them at the game. Tonight, the students plan to sell orange bracelets.
Verhoff and Giblin have been in contact with their friend.
“She is optimistic and is always positive,” Giblin said. “She’s still Sydney.”
Verhoff added, “We have not seen her without a smile on her face. Almost the whole senior class Skyped with her today.”
The 36 members of the MCNC senior class are a tight-knit group. They are in the process of making a scrapbook to send to Sydney. Ross Vennekotter’s page said, “You are a very dear friend to me, even though we don’t talk every day. I hope you are cured before graduation. Also, I hope the scrapbook you’re making for me is better than this page I made. I’m not very good with this stuff, but I tried my best for you.” He included inspirational quotes on the back of the page.
Vennekotter’s mother, Nancy, explained Sydney is the cheerleader making Ross’ basketball scrapbook. Her eyes welled up, and she shook her head.
“Did you ever think your kid would do that?” she asked, referring to the scrapbook page her son had made. “You always hear about the bad. Here’s something good these kids are doing.”