PLAINWELL, Mich. (March 14, 2014)– A group of friends is on a mission to help young cancer patients, after being inspired by the fight of one of their own. Dustan Coyler is the namesake behind “DC Strong”, an organization that reaches out to support and put smiles on those facing childhood cancer.
Colyer, 19, of Allegan County, is no stranger to the disease. He’s spent most of his life battling to stay healthy.
“I was 6 years old, the first time I was diagnosed with cancer. I was diagnosed with stage 5 womb tumor kidney cancer,” Colyer told FOX 17 News. “I beat it when I was 6, I got re-diagnosed when I was 10, when I was 13, and when I was 16, and then about a year and a half ago, I had a couple of spots on my spine.”
The Plainwell teenager has had to be strong for years, but admits it wasn’t always that way. After receiving his fourth cancer diagnosis in high school, Colyer said he felt like giving up. That’s when his friend Nate Smith, challenged by a school project to make a difference, came up with the idea behind DC Strong. The initiative began with Smith selling t-shirts to help Colyer and show his support.
“I figured if I can rally the community together, that way I can change the world that way and we could come together to help Dustan out,” said Smith.
After graduating high school, Colyer reached out to Smith to re-launch DC Strong to help others fighting cancer. Together with the help of two more friends, Zack VerHage and Larry Gonzalez, the group has grown and is currently awaiting its official recognition as a non-profit.
The members of DC Strong provide care packages to sick kids and also fundraises to put together a “dream day” for each patient. The group also keeps in close contact with involved, offering mentoring and support for their families.
Colyer is currently undergoing experimental medicine in Ann Arbor and said it appears to be working. He credits his outreach as also contributing to his health.
“I’ve had everything from chemotherapy, radiation,” he explained. “I’ve had it all and I sort of pretty much believe that I’ve been finding my healing in helping other people.”
The men behind DC Strong said they’d like to eventually take their efforts nationwide.
To learn more about DC Strong, or to donate to the group, click here.