In late teen's memory, family raises $1M for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

In June of 2010 Dylan Witschen, a football player at Anoka High School died of brain cancer. Before he died, he asked his family to raise money for the hospital that fought to save his life. 

In August of 2008 just before Dylan’s freshman year, he was at football practice at Anoka High School. He and another player collided. Dylan said he didn’t feel right after the hit, and thought he may have had a concussion. 

"We went to Mercy Hospital, they did a CT scan, they found a mass on his brain," his mom Debbie Witschen said. 

Within 24 hours, he had undergone surgery to remove a tumor in his brain that had caused a seizure when he was hit. 

"He was a happy, healthy 14 year old up until that point," Witschen said. 

After surgery, his family decided to continue his cancer treatments at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. After nine months of treatment, he returned to the football field for Anoka High School for his sophomore year. It would be the last year he played football. 

"Unfortunately, on Dylan’s 16th birthday, the doctor read his image and said he had six months to live," Witschen said. 

She says shortly after his terminal diagnosis, Dylan hosted a fundraiser walk for the hospital at the Mall of America. That day, he asked his family to carry out a mission. 

"He called a family meeting and he said ‘here’s the deal: I don’t want other children and other families go through what we had to go through.’ He said ‘I want you to raise money for St. Jude,’" Witschen said.

At just 16 years old Dylan created the Dylan Witschen Foundation. Through his foundation, his family has carried on his legacy and his wish to help other families touched by childhood cancer. 

This Saturday, his family will celebrate more than $1 million dollars raised for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital through the Dylan Witschen Foundation.

At 10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 25, the Witschen family and their supporters will celebrate the $1 million mark. They are hosting a run/walk starting at Riversbend Bar and Grill in Ramsey. Registration begins at 9 a.m.