Each of the six finalists for the 2016 Uplifting Athletes Rare Disease Champion Award will be featured here. In order to cast your online vote to help determine the 2016 Rare Disease Champion, you can visit our voting page. The winner will be announced February 18.
University: West Virginia University
Vitals: Running Backs Coach
Quick Hits: Seider began his collegiate playing career at West Virginia before transferring to Florida A&M after earning his bachelor’s degree at WVU. After great success at Florida A&M where he earned All-America honors, Seider was drafted in the sixth round by the San Diego Chargers. … A successful high school coach in his home state of Florida, the former college quarterback returned to WVU as a graduate assistant coach and earned his masters degree. … In 2010 he accepted a full-time coaching position at Marshall where he was the recruiting coordinator and running backs coach. After an extremely successful three-year run at Marshall, Seider returned to where it all started, Morgantown, in 2013 to coach the running back at West Virginia.
INSIDE THE STORY
Seider and his wife, Brandi, are no different than any other parents. When their teenage son was diagnosed with Hodgkin nodular lymphoma in early 2015, the Seider’s became a family on a mission to help Jaden in any way possible to battle his rare form of cancer.
Ja’Juan and Brandi knew their son was tough and believed if anybody was equipped for this battle it was Jaden. But what they discovered was the Seider family wasn’t in this alone.
The West Virginia football team became a strong support element for the Seider family, helping to bring awareness to rare disease cancers. This was still about Jaden and his battle, but through this the Seider’s learned they had a platform that could be used to help others.
Jaden spent nine weeks in the West Virginia University Children’s Hospital right across the street from the Mountaineers stadium. Learning from the inside about the staff and people at the hospital, it inspired the Seider’s to want to do more and help other families in a similar situation.
Overwhelmed by the outpouring of support, the family started #SeiderStrong – a social media campaign where the sale of wrist bands and t-shirts would directly benefit the WVU Children’s Hospital.
THE RARE JOURNEY
The Bible verse Joshua 1:9 says “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.” This particular verse has special meaning to the Seider family.
Nine weeks in the hospital was followed by weekly intense chemotherapy treatments that would take several hours to complete.
Through those months of weekly treatments, the Seider’s learned Jaden was even stronger than they thought. His upbeat attitude and overwhelming positive attitude had an impact on the West Virginia football team.
The players knew weekly treatments were not easy, but yet each Thursday after his chemotherapy was complete he would head over to football practice and interact with the players as if nothing was wrong.
His treatment is complete and the tumor, while smaller, is still there. The doctors are confident over time, his quarterly scans will continue to show the tumor shrinking until it eventually ceases to exist.
WHAT THEY SAID
“We want to be able to help people who have to travel 3-4 hours to get treatments at WVU Hospital. It’s not easy. We understand and have been there and are here to help” I would definitely say (Jayden) is brave and courageous. But above all else he is a fighter.” – Brandi Seider
“You kinda take for granted the little things. Then something like this happens and you realize how important they are. The proudest moment for me was being able to go in the front yard and throw with my son again. That was the biggest joy for me, being able to go out in the front yard and just throw the football.” – Ja’Juan Seider