5-year-old battles cancer with basketball community behind her

Loos family receives support through tweets, texts and T-shirts as daughter Rhyan fights neuroblastoma.
Missouri Tigers men’s basketball coaches have a discussion during a scrimmage Oct. 15 at Hearnes Center. The coaching staff wore shirts with #RallyForRhyan printed on them in support of assistant coach Brad Loos’ daughter Rhyan Loos.

Something was different at the Oct. 15 Missouri men’s basketball media session. When you looked over at coach Kim Anderson, the change was clear.

There, past his head, in black and gold letters, was a phrase already spreading on social media: “#RallyForRhyan.”

With the letters behind him, Anderson publically addressed the team tragedy in person for the first time. Rhyan is Rhyan Loos, the daughter of assistant coach Brad Loos. The rally is for her fight against neuroblastoma.

The ‘C’ word.

Just as Loos had been absent from the sidelines, the bubbly five-year-old who senior center Ryan Rosburg knew as “the life of the party” was missing from team gatherings. There was no one to steal the attention.

"A week ago, she was playing in the cul-de-sac with her friends. Today, she's fighting cancer,” Anderson said. “We certainly support the family and are trying to do everything we can to help. Probably the main thing to do is pray."

But much more than praying has already been done.

After the first public introduction of #RallyForRhyan at media day, the hashtag has spread far beyond Mizzou’s own teams and organizations, from the St. Louis Cardinals to the Tennessee Titans and rival Southeastern Conference school Georgia.

Outside the realm of social media, #RallyForRhyan T-shirts are for sale on the Blue Cotton website for $23.50. On Oct. 29, the Missouri Scholarship Fund will host the “Hoops Fest Costumes and Cocktails.” Both will raise proceeds and awareness for Rhyan.

A page entitled “Rally for Ryan Loos” was launched Oct. 12 on the crowdsourcing site GoFundMe with information on the five-year-old’s case, where updates on her condition have been posted.

“We are on day (three) of chemo and things are going well,” reads the third update, added last week. “Feels good to finally be able to fight back against cancer. Rhyan is a tough, stubborn little girl and there is no doubt that she will win this fight. Thank you so much to everyone who has helped us with this fight. We truly are blessed beyond compare.”

The virtual charity’s goal was set at $50,000. Just two weeks later, the fundraiser is over halfway there.

The team has taken the cause into their own hands as well.

At the Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic School, Anderson and the players visited Rhyan's class, baskets in hand. In the chapel, they handed out black and gold bracelets embossed with the phrase they’d come to know too well.

Freshman forward Kevin Puryear walked around before practice last week in all-white Nikes with the slogan written on them in black permanent marker. For the players, the phrase is more than just a jumble of letters, and the announcement was no less eye-opening.

“It’s just so sad to see something like that happen, especially to someone you know,” Rosburg said. “It hurts. And it puts things in perspective. The day I found out, I came to practice; I had just had a test and was up most of the night and just not wanting to be here. And then I heard about this and was like, my problems really don’t mean anything compared to this.”

One of Rhyan’s biggest supporters is at the top. After 14 years together, Anderson continues to show support for the Loos family, including being flexible with Brad Loos.

"I've told Brad that the most important thing for him is to take care of his family,” Anderson said. “When he feels ready if he wants to come back and coach tomorrow, that's fine. If he wants to wait a month, that's fine. Whatever he needs and whatever his family needs is fine."

Rhyan completed her first round of chemotherapy Oct. 20. The next is scheduled for Nov. 9, Brad Loos said on Twitter.

Despite the early success, the community knows the road to recovery is a tough one. The team has planned accordingly.

"The Loos family is in for a long journey ahead with the amount of medical care and treatment needed for a special member of the Mizzou men's basketball family, Rhyan,” Anderson said in a press release. “Our program continues to offer our support to Brad, Jen, Brady, Rhyan and Charli. Right now, basketball is secondary and Rhyan's health is most important. My family and I will contribute and help in whatever way possible to positively impact Rhyan's recovery, and I ask that others that are able to please consider doing the same."

How to help: If you would like to donate to the “Rally for Rhyan” account, you can do so at any of the 16 branches of the Central Bank of Boone County. To learn more about how you can help, visit https://www.gofundme.com/gg6753c8 or buy a #RallyforRhyan T-shirt at http://www.bluecotton.com/campaigns/rallyforrhyan.

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