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Please help us help K-Stater Aaron Kennedy

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Aaron Kennedy helped me at K-State, now we need to help him.

Your shaggy-haired author and AK, circa 2004.
Your shaggy-haired author and AK, circa 2004.

Let me tell you about the first person I met at K-State.

When I walked into Marlatt Hall in August 2002, I sat down in my resident assistant's room. He was a skinny guy wearing sandals that showed off a tattoo on two webbed toes.

Most people I knew didn't like their RAs, but Aaron Kennedy would be one of the most important people during one of the most difficult years of my life. He helped me adjust to college life on a campus where I knew nobody. And in a major where one in three people would drop out before the end of the first year - me among them - AK helped me with that, too.

He was a mentor, but he became a friend, too.

We stayed in contact, but we went our separate ways after my freshman year. He graduated from K-State's College of Architecture, Planning and Design and went to work. I finished school at K-State and went to Houston for law school. Almost 10 years later, I would discover he lived only 70 miles away in Sedalia, Mo., and we reconnected.

***

On November 4, 2014, doctors diagnosed AK with acute myelogenous leukemia. Two days later, he announced the diagnosis to his Facebook friends.

He also told us that his wife is expecting their third child in June 2015. Graham is three, and Mirabelle is one. His wife, Kelly, is a stay-at-home mom.

AK started chemo a few days later at the University of Missouri-Columbia hospital. After a week of chemo, he gets to enjoy two weeks in isolation while his white blood cells regenerate.

These are a lot of sanitized medical terms to tell you that he's going through hell to beat this. As much as cancer terrifies me, I'm not worried for AK. Anything that wants a piece of him is going to get a helluva fight.

But it's when I think of his kids and wife having to travel 70 miles to see him in a hospital, my chin gets tight and the levees break inside my eyes. It's one thing to go through this. It's another to have to take your kids to see their daddy in a hospital. And it's quite another to do it while you have to worry about money and another child due.

As soon as this story is published, I'll be off to the online fundraising site some of AK's friends set up. AK is one of us, a Manhattan townie, K-State alum and big Wildcat fan. Like Bill Snyder, I came to K-State for the opportunity, but I stayed because of the people.

Keep a prayer or a good thought or whatever you believe in for AK and his family. Go beat it, AK. I'll have a good beer waiting for you when you're ready.