Wichita Thunder Retire Jersey Of Former Player Battling Cancer

By: Natasha Trelfa Email
By: Natasha Trelfa Email

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Rob Weingartner was diagnosed with colon cancer in January. Friday he was honored before the Thunder game against Tulsa, as part of the "Fight for number 15" campaign.

Weingartner knew his thunder family was looking to help him in his battle with cancer, but a special tribute left him nearly speechless before a thunderous crowd.

"I didn't expect it," he said. This is an honor, that's for sure."

"I think he'll be a little surprised with just how much the team and the organization has really done," said Mike Batovanja, a member of the Wichita Thunder.

It was no secret the Wichita Thunder organization has stepped up to help Weingartner, but there was one secret the organization was keeping from him.

"We did everything we possibly could to keep this a complete secret," said Joel Lomurno, the Wichita Thunder General Manager.

During the Thunder's last home game, the team and the community surprised Weingartner, and honored him by retiring his jersey.

"It's and honor, I've been a part of the organization for a number of years now, and in the community, so it's humbling for sure," said Weingartner.

"I thought it was great," said Thunder fan Harold Bohlman. "Rob is actually from my hometown. We really enjoyed when he played."

After Weingartner was diagnosed, the team launched the "Fight for #15" fund raiser to help Weingartner with his medical expenses. Team officials said they just wanted to show Weingartner how many people are behind him.

"Rob's a big part of our organization and now every time somebody comes to one of our games here or at the new arena they'll see Rob Weingartner hanging in the rafters," said Lomurno.

While Weingartner still faces six months of chemotherapy, he said his goal now is to help raise awareness about colon cancer.

"If you have any signs at all, get out there and get tested. If you catch it early, it's a lot easier to take care of the disease," said Weingartner.

Thunder officials said they planed to keep the fund raising going through Friday night. They expect to raise nearly $10,000.

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