By Chris Palmquist
SIOUX CITY, Iowa—Imagine doing something you love your entire life and then having it taken away from you in the blink of an eye.
That's what happened to Morningside linebacker Austin Granatowicz last September, and since then, he's battled to get football back in his life.
"My whole life just kind of changed," Granatowicz said.
Last fall, the now-sophomore heard the words that nobody ever wants to hear.
"He [the doctor] just came in and said, ‘I'm sorry, life isn't fair, but you have chronic myelogenous leukemia."
CML is an uncommon, but curable form of cancer.
"It made me stop playing football," Granatowicz said, "which I've been playing forever."
Austin would have to beat the cancer in order to return to the field, which he did this summer, less than a year after his diagnosis.
"The coaches, my teammates, and really the whole college has been behind me the whole time which has been a big driving factor in me getting back on the field," he said.
While Granatowicz has gained support from the Mustangs, Morningside Coach Steve Ryan says that has gone both ways.
"I think Austin has been a great example to our players in terms of his character and his courage, and just how he moves forward [with] his determination to play football," Ryan said. "I think we all grab strength from Austin and the way that he approaches practice and what he does."
In fact, they're so inspired that Morningside's game against Briar Cliff on October 26 has been designated as "Let's Pack the House and Together Beat Cancer," in honor of Austin.
"It's going to be a great day," Ryan said. "If there's just something that we can do in a small regard in support of him, whether it's how we play or bring awareness to his situation, it's just a small thing we can do."
"All the proceeds are going to the American Cancer Society," Granatowicz said. "We're just trying to raise money to go to research for cancer.
"It will be kind of emotional, just seeing all my teammates and coaches and the whole community behind me and anybody diagnosed with cancer.
It is truly a huge step in the right direction for Granatowicz, and the fight against cancer.
At the game against Briar Cliff, there are a variety of fundraising endeavors. Raffle tickets will be sold for $2 a piece or three for $5. These can be purchased at the Hindman Hobbs Center, at Morningside home football and volleyball contests, and at the Briar Cliff Student Development Office in the Stark Student Center.
Raffle prizes include two tickets to the Heroes Game between Iowa and Nebraska; two tickets to a Brad Paisley concert; a football autographed by Indianapolis Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano, who was diagnosed with Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia last year; and a football signed by the Morningside and Briar Cliff football teams.
The Chick-fil-A locations in Sioux City will hold a Spirit Night on October 24 between 5 PM and 8 PM with a portion of proceeds being donated to the ACS.
Siouxland children battling cancer and their families are invited to attend this game with free admission.
If you plan on attending, you are encouraged to wear orange, which is the color of leukemia awareness. Orange hats, wristbands, and t-shirts can be purchased at the Hindman Hobbs Center as well as at Morningside home football and volleyball games.
For more information, go to www.55wontbebeat.com.