An Athens fundraiser for a cancer patient unites more than a community

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — A fundraiser to support a young man battling cancer not only brought the community together but also united two families who share a unique bond.

It all started two years ago when Melissa McIntyre and her family came across the Facebook page supporting Kyle Rutter, a 19-year-old Athens High School graduate. “We had followed Kyle’s journey through his cancer through Ewing sarcoma,” she said. 

The Johnson (left) and Rutter (right) family together in Cincinnati, Ohio for Driven Project
The Johnson and Rutter family together in Cincinnati, Ohio for Driven Project

A year later the unexpected happened.

“I was never prepared or dreamed that I would be going through that same journey,” McIntyre said. Her son, Braylyn Johnson, was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in May of last year. 

Osteosarcoma is a rare bone cancer mostly found in long bones surrounding the knee. 

McIntyre said she reached out to the Rutter family for support the night before Braylyn began his treatment. 

“Jessica and Derik Rutter were complete strangers before all this and we feel like we’ve known them forever now,” she said. “It’s a bond that no one ever wants to have but when it’s there, it’s a blessing to have those people right beside you.” 

Kyle and Braylyn were both in remission by March of this year. 

Unfortunately Kyle’s cancer, another rare bone cancer, has returned. 

Braylyn’s family is now returning the support with the help of Brandy Rankin, who has organized multiple events regarding cancer including Miles for Kyle, a 5K held last Saturday in Athens. 

“Braylyn is actually my next door neighbor and I did a fundraiser for him, a large fundraiser, and in turn I ended up meeting up with Jess through that process as Jess was a huge help for Melissa, Braylyn’s mom,” Rankin said. 

However this time, she said, she needed to do something bigger than the last fundraiser, which is what led her to creating this event. 

“Kyle has such a huge heart and I love all the support that people are putting out there for this family cause they genuinely truly do need it,” she said. 

Kyle’s mother says the family appreciates all of the support. 

“These times are difficult and sometimes you feel the loneliness,” Jessica Rutter said. “But you actually have a whole community and it can be overwhelming, but we are so appreciative and all the prayers, love and support, it’s beyond words.”

The next fundraiser for Kyle will be a spaghetti dinner and is scheduled for Saturday at The American Legion at 520 W. Union St.