Nearly 37,000 people in the United States were diagnosed with oral cancer in 2010. Chad Haakenson, 27, of Longmont, has recently joined that scary statistic,
which continues to increase every year. Less than a week ago, after noticing a small lump on his tongue, he was diagnosed with stage three oral cancer. A biopsy confirmed the lump to be cancerous, and a PET scan determined that the cancer had already progressed to stage three.
On December 18 Haakenson will begin extensive treatments, which will include surgery, chemo, and radiation, to attack the cancer. As a long-time, dedicated athlete, Chad now draws on his physical and mental toughness as he prepares to battle his toughest opponent yet.
A Colorado native, Haakenson grew up in Longmont with his younger sister, Holly and parents, Tammy and Jim Kepple. From the age of four, Chad was already hooked on wrestling, which quickly became a family interest; soon, the entire Haakenson/Kepple clan began commuting to practices and tournaments in Lyons, where he would continue to wrestle for the next fourteen years.
In 2000, Chad was a Cadet Freestyle All-American while representing Team Colorado, and after graduating from Lyons High School in 2002, Chad went on to wrestle at Dana College in Blair, Nebraska with former Lyons High wrestling teammate, and long time friend, Leister Bowling III.
“One thing that always stood out to me about Chad, was his mental toughness. He never missed a practice and was one of the hardest working and dedicated athletes that I’ve ever been around. All of the hard work Chad has put in on the mat will have him mentally prepared for this battle. “This is just another fight that Chad will overcome,” said Bowling, who is now calling on the wrestling community to join in fundraising efforts, and to contact his friend and teammate with words of encouragement.
Fundraising efforts to help Haakenson tackle his growing stack of medical bills have been established throughout the area, including a benefit held this Thursday night, December 16, from 6 to 8 p.m., at the Outlaw Saloon in Lyons. The benefit will include a silent auction that will feature items donated by local businesses as well as memorabilia signed and donated by UFC fighters: Shane Carwin, Nate Marquardt and Brendan Schaub; a dinner buffet with menu items donated by Oskar Blues Grill & Brew and Ma’s Pizzaria of Lyons ($10.00 per plate), and 15 percent of the Outlaw Saloon’s bar sales during the event going towards a fund set up in Chad’s name at the Bank of the West in Lyons. So whether you know Chad and his family, have been touched by cancer, or are looking for something to do on Thursday night, please come out and support a good cause and help Chad Haakenson rack up one more “win” for his record.
Cash and check donations can be made to: The Chad Haakenson Fund at The Bank of the West, P.O. Box 920, Lyons, CO 80540.
A PayPal fund has also been set up athttp://www.cowrestling.com/chadhaakensonfund.htm.