No one fights alone

Oviedo senior Britton Daniel battles against bone cancer


photo by Provided by Britton Daniel

Oviedo senior Britton Daniel fights Ewing Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. His community has made sure that his year-long battle will not be fought alone.

Oviedo senior Britton Daniel has 10 months of chemotherapy, 12 months of treatment, and countless trips to Gainesville ahead of him as he fights against bone cancer.

On July 30, Daniel was at his first football practice of the year. Halfway through, he felt an unbearable pain in his lower back and hip causing him to stop.  An x-ray and an MRI later that day showed possible signs of cancer.

“When I heard it might be cancer, I was upset just to think about how my life would completely change and how scary the word ‘cancer’ is,” Daniel said.

Daniel was officially diagnosed on Friday, Aug. 17, with a very rare form of bone cancer, Ewing Sarcoma. According to Mayo Clinic, it is most common for teens and young adults, but is very aggressive and can easily spread to multiple parts of the body.

Since then, he has been making trips to the University of Florida Health Shands Cancer Hospital every five to nine days, in between treatments. His new normal has become sitting in his hospital room waiting for his doctors to come in with the game plan for the day.

Due to the extensive treatments ahead of him such as radiation and possibly surgery, Daniel will be taking online classes for his senior year.

After his first round of chemotherapy, he did not feel drastically different; however, his immune system has been become very weak. Because of this, his family has asked that everyone wait a month to visit, to get him through the first few rounds of chemotherapy and ensure that he is healthy.

“I miss my friends more than anything,” Daniel said.

As senior class president, part of the varsity football and basketball teams, and a good friend to many in the Oviedo community, his friends have been FaceTiming, texting, and sending him pictures and videos to reinforce him that “no one fights alone.”

“[Britton] grew up in our Pop Warner system so a lot of our students know him very well, and [his mom] worked here in the past,” dean of students Christy Bryce said. “The Hagerty and Oviedo community is kind of one in the same when coming together to help one of our own.”

One of his closest friends, Oviedo senior Talia Hollis, has taken initiative and designed t-shirts that she is selling for $25 to her school, church, dance studio, and friends. All of the proceeds are going to the Daniel family.

“Shirts to me are one of the best ways to raise awareness and money,” Hollis said. “Everyone loves a cute and comfortable shirt.”

She has spread the word about her shirts through social media forms such as Instagram and Twitter and has received over 100 preorders since Saturday.

“[Britton] has always supported me through everything,” Hollis said. “We have gone through a lot together, grown in our faith together, and have jammed to country together. I believe it is my job to be that positive light in his life right now.”

Other fundraisers have been put together such as a GoFundMe which has exceeded the initial goal of $20,000 and has reached over $38,000 in a week.  Oviedo High School students are also selling bracelets for $2 each.

A teacher from Lake Brantley High School, where Daniel’s mother is the principal, also made a #B11STRONG shirt that was sold for $5 at the Hagerty vs. Lake Brantley and Oviedo vs. Timber Creek games on Friday, Aug. 24. The proceeds from the shirts will all be donated to the Daniel family.

Instead of wearing their own school colors, students and fans at high school football games all through the county filled the stands with yellow, to bring awareness to bone cancer, that Friday in support of Daniel’s fight. Student sections have planned to do the same for the Hagerty vs. Oviedo game on Sept. 7.

A few of Daniel’s teammates on the football team have decided to shave their heads in support as he begins to lose his hair from the chemotherapy. The idea was influenced from the Oviedo baseball team last year when one of their players, Scotty Reeves, was sent to the hospital due to a head injury on campus.

“Everyone looks up to him since he is such a leader on and off the field,” Oviedo senior Jonathan Rucker said. “Now, since he can’t play, our motivation is to play our best since we know that is what he would do.”

After the met at football conditioning the summer going into their freshman year, Daniel and Rucker became close friends: going to football games together and even multiple trips to the keys.

“The thing about Britt is he isn’t fake like most high schoolers nowadays,” Rucker said. “He is the definition of a true friend.”

Daniel’s impact has expanded far beyond Oviedo high school, and has hit hard for those who have grown up with him, like senior Malia Rasberry, who has known him since seven.

“He is just one of those people that always knows how to make you laugh and smile whenever you are feeling down,” Rasberry said. “When I found out he had cancer, it was a hard pill to swallow because you never expect one of your friends to have to go through something like that. He is the strongest and most positive person I have ever met and I know that with all of the love and support around him, he can fight through this.”

Throughout this whole experience Daniel has tightly held onto his faith and his community.

“I reach for my faith for everything but heavily lean on it for an experience like this,” Daniel said. “The response is just overwhelming; I can’t believe how much support I’m getting by everyone it’s truly been amazing.”

To see all of the links and stories that have supported Britton, click on the dots above.