When a fan is wondering what the best seat in the house is at Sonny Lubick Field at Hughes Stadium, one only needs to ask Tim Rickett.
On Wednesday, Rickett, a CSU alumnus, sat in all 34,000 seats at the stadium to raise money for cancer research with Team RAMStrong for the LIVEStrong Challenge.
Four years ago, Rickett was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, which has only a 3 to 4 percent survival rate.
“It’s basically a death sentence,” said friend Todd Heenan, owner and manager of the Fort Collins Club, where Rickett works. “He was told he didn’t have long to live, but he didn’t accept that.”
About 300 people showed up for the “Taking a Seat Against Cancer” event and watched Rickett scoot across more than nine and a half miles of stadium. Thousands more were there to watch the Rams football team practice at the same time. The event raised an estimated $15,000.
Rickett originally thought it would “just be a buddy or two going up and helping me out,” but he arranged with CSU to open up Hughes Stadium and set up a donation stand.
Surrounded by a crowd of about 30 family and friends, including several co-workers from the Fort Collins Club, Rickett remained upbeat, even laughing when a friend iced and wrapped his right quadriceps.
While working his way across the stadium, Rickett went through intense muscle pain from the repeated motion of scooting across thousands of bleacher seats and standing, side-stepping and sitting in hundreds of folding chairs. He started at 5 a.m. and by 10 a.m. he’d sat in nearly 10,000 seats.
After undergoing extensive treatment, Rickett was cancer-free for about a year until cancer cells returned in his liver. Now he visits the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, a top-rated cancer center in Texas, about every three months for checkups and tests.
It was during one of the nights spent there, unable to sleep and waiting for test results, that he decided he wanted to do something to help.
Rickett found plenty of support from family and friends, among them the Lubick family. He wanted to return the favor to assistant football coach Marc Lubick, son of football Head Coach Sonny Lubick, who has been diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare form of cancer.
“It’s a great way to help the Lubicks, on a football field named after (Sonny),” Rickett said.
Steve Kelly, a Denver disc jockey, who put on a similar fundraiser at Mile High Stadium, served as another inspiration for Rickett.
The CSU football team showed their support for Rickett by practicing in the stadium during the fundraiser.
Rickett bears the scars from his battle from cancer with grace. Doctors had removed half of his stomach, a third of his pancreas, part of his liver, aorta and gall bladder, as well as his appendix and lymph nodes.
“All that extra stuff you all still carry around,” he said, smiling.
Rickett has participated in several clinical studies on cancer by taking experimental drugs such as Avastin, which travels directly to cancerous cells and destroys them.
It’s drugs like this that inspired Rickett to raise money for research. Without funds, Rickett said these drugs could never be discovered.
“I’m marvelous,” he assured anyone who asked how he was doing.
His wife, Julie Rickett, stayed close to his side.
“That man never complains,” she said. “He has an iron will.”
Rickett deals with the disease the best way he knows how: by eating, laughing and staying active.
He stays motivated by his 9-year-old daughter, Jacque.
“I won’t leave her fatherless,” he said.
His daughter spent the day running around the stadium and having somersault races with the other kids.
“It just doesn’t seem like it’s my time to go yet,” Rickett said. “This is a battle we cannot lose ’cause the loss really sucks.”
For donation information visit LIVEStrongChallenge.com.
Donations will be accepted for the next four weeks.
Staff writer Callie Moench can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.