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April 18, 2009EAST LANSING - The Spartan football womens coaching clinic was deemed a success by Becky Dantonio, who hosted 200 women at Michigan State on Saturday that raised 16,855 dollars for the Arthur Ray Fund.
The Arthur Ray Fund helps pay for the medical expenses incurred by Michigan State offensive lineman Arthur Ray who was diagnosed with cancer shortly after signing a letter of intent to play football at Michigan State following his senior year at Mt. Caramel High School in the suburban Chicago Area.
"It is so exciting, we are really happy to do this," said Becky Dantonio, the wife of Spartan head football coach Mark Dantonio. "It is our first annual and due to the response, I think we will be doing this every year, I hope so. It is just great and we are really happy to be doing this for Arthur Ray."
Ray began treatment for his cancer two months after signing with Michigan State as the highest ranked offensive lineman in Dantonio's first class. Ray underwent chemotherapy and a subsequent surgery to remove the cancerous tumor from his leg bone in 2007. Since that time, Ray has undergone three bone graft surgeries. Expenses beyond the insurance cap for the procedures Ray has undergone has totaled more than 50,000 dollars.
"It means a lot to me," said Mrs. Dantonio. "He signed with us and just few months later he went through the cancer treatment. He is so courageous. He is a great example to all of us and we are just so proud of him. When he gives a smile he can light up a room. We are happy to be able to do this for him and his family. It is privilege to be here."
The effort of the Michigan State family on his behalf means a lot to Ray.
"It is great," said Ray of the support he has received. "Since I signed the national letter of intent Michigan State has been great and given me all of the support in the world. I couldn't ask for a better place. I feel like I made the right choice."
Ray, who currently walks with the aid of crutches, expects to walk without crutches in late spring.
"That is going to be a happy day and I can't wait," Ray said. "I have had to walk with them for a year and half now."
Ray says he tries to live as close a life to that of a normal football that he can. He works out with his teammates three days a week at 5:00 a.m.
"I keep pushing myself, that is what I pride myself on, my work ethic," said Ray. "How I face adversity."
The last of Ray's three bone grafts took place in December before Michigan State's New Year's Day Bowl Game against Georgia. According to Ray, doctors believe that his last surgery was a successful one.
Ray sees himself as an inspirational leader on the Spartan football team. Because he has experience what he has at a time when most athletes feel invincible, Ray has developed a richer outlook on life and on football.
"I am 19, but I feel like I am older than my time," said Ray. "A lot of people my age don't go through what I've been through. I have become the strong person that I am because of my experiences. I just wanted everyone to know how important a support system is, especially going like something like I did, you feel alone, but I had everyone in the world behind me and it is a great feeling."