To former Ohio State wide receiver Dimitrious Stanley, there’s no better decision a high school football player can make than becoming a Buckeye, and it’s because of the support Ohio State players continue to receive from the community even long after their careers are over.
“Whenever I talk to young kids that are just trying to decide where to go play ball at, I tell them, you’re never gonna find anything better than The Ohio State University, because the one thing I always tell people that no matter what happens, if you play at Ohio State and you create memories with these families and you keep your nose clean, you will never go hungry in the city of Columbus,” Stanley said.
Nearly 24 years since he played his last snap for the Buckeyes, Stanley is feeling that support now that he needs it most.
Stanley, who led Ohio State with 829 yards and eight touchdowns on 43 receptions during the 1996 season, was diagnosed with prostate cancer in September 2019. Although he had a prostatectomy last October, the cancer has since returned over the past four months, and his medical bills have piled up as a result.
That’s why fellow former Ohio State football player Tyson Gentry – who has also received what he calls “amazing support” from Buckeye Nation since he broke his neck and was paralyzed during a practice collision in 2006 – decided to start a GoFundMe fundraiser to raise money for Stanley and his family after a recent conversation with Stanley.
“I asked him how his battle with cancer was going, and he said to be honest, he was losing the battle, and that just really affected me,” Gentry told Eleven Warriors. “Dimitrious and his family are just awesome, and I’m just thankful that this is going to help them and allow them to just relieve them of the stress that they’ve been undergoing.”
Since the GoFundMe was launched last week, more than 450 donors have combined to donate more than $40,000 to his fundraiser, which Stanley says “means the absolute world” to him and his family.
“The one thing you don’t think about, and at least I wasn’t thinking about, insurance doesn’t pay for everything,” Stanley told Eleven Warriors. “A lot of this stuff is expensive, and you get $38,000 bills out of pocket, and then you get a $7,000 bill, then you get a whole bunch of $185, $175 bills, it adds up over time, and next thing you know, you got this boatload of money that you owe for bills but then you still have your regular life to live and your mortgage and stuff like that. So this is gonna go toward helping me heal myself and pay my medical bills.”
“I always tell people that no matter what happens, if you play at Ohio State and you create memories with these families and you keep your nose clean, you will never go hungry in the city of Columbus.”– Dimitrious Stanley
Gentry says the early support for the fundraiser, which was set with a goal of $75,000, has surpassed his expectations.
“The response has been amazing,” Gentry said. “One of the statements that was made after I broke my neck was ‘One Buckeye down, all Buckeyes down,’ and it just really is humbling and incredible how supportive our fans are, and just even people beyond Ohio State fans.”
https://t.co/4CEEik7nLS A GREAT Buckeye. for him.— Shelley eyer (@spinnershells) November 29, 2020
Lets pull together to help our brother, D. Stanley. The strength is in the brotherhood!! God bless.https://t.co/8yya3hkJus— Luke Fickell (@CoachFick) November 26, 2020
It’s been a challenging year for Stanley, and not only because of his battle with cancer. He lost his job as a consultant for a home health company as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which also impacted his wife’s business, leaving both of them unemployed for more than three months. In order to maintain some income, Stanley and his wife became shoppers for Shipt, a grocery delivery company, but he lost his health insurance for a period of time as a result of being laid off.
“This is something that a lot of people aren’t thinking about,” said Stanley, who is now working as a sales executive for State Cleaning Solutions, a company that sells commercial cleaning products. “You forget that when they shut down the economy, people lose jobs and then people lose insurance and there’s many people out there that are dealing with cancer as I am, and then all of a sudden you lose that job, well you lose your insurance. So now you have to go through that stress.
“Fortunately, in my life, I was able to get through it. But a lot of people don’t have resources that I have. And I really feel sorry for those people.”
Despite facing his own challenges both physically and financially, Stanley has continued to give back through his own foundation, Brave Men Inc., which raises awareness about prostate cancer and funds for others fighting the disease. That foundation, which he says has been able to provide multiple patient care grants to men with prostate cancer who could not afford to pay their medical bills, stemmed from Stanley’s own diagnosis and the realization that many people would be unable to afford the costs he faced himself.
“I was going to get my surgery, it was Oct. 31, (2019) and we sat down and right before they take you up, they take you into this little office and it’s a financial office. And I’m sitting there and this lady basically tells me: ‘Yeah, you’re insured to cover this, but you owe $6,000,’” Stanley said. “And at that moment, I looked at my wife and I was like, ‘What if we were a family of four, and at the time we were already struggling, and they just told me, to basically save my life, I owe $6,000.’ I’m just like ‘Wow man, that was shocking.’”
“The Brave Men Inc. patient care grant program, my first two recipients are two gentlemen who they got diagnosed, then they got the bill of what it was gonna cost outside of insurance – one guy didn’t have insurance, the other guy did – and when they saw the bill outside of that, they’re like, ‘I can’t afford this, it’s gonna ruin my family.’ So their nurses and whoever told them to reach out to Brave Men Inc. and fortunately, we were able to take those bills off their plate so that they could get their scans and their biopsies and all that good stuff so they can at least get the process started.”
The biggest message Stanley tries to share through his nonprofit, though, is that “Real men talk about health.” As someone who has stage IV prostate cancer, and who has been told by his doctors that he hopefully has 10 more years to live, he wants other men to know that regular doctor visits and early detection are key to successful treatment.
“You don’t have to get to the point where I did if you get yourself to the doctor,” Stanley said. “All the stuff that I’m going through, I hope people are looking at me and saying, ‘You know what, this could happen to me, but I don’t necessarily have to go through what Dimitrious is going through, because I decided to go see the doctor regularly.’ And if something changes in my body, instead of as a man, we go, ‘Oh, it’ll just go away, whatever,’; go get it looked at, just in case. And that’s kind of what I want people to get from my experience.”
Donate to Help Dimitrious Stanley Battle Cancer