Fighting tough news with grace and perseverance is not an easy task to take on, but Randy Stephens faced his battle with the strength many adults can’t even fathom. He adopted a theme song, “I Won’t Back Down” by Tom Petty, as he faced his battle.
His mom, Liz Stephens, said Randy would often try to comfort her when she became sad or angry about his diagnosis. “It’s God’s will and you know, and I am going to accept what that is. He even said, I’m glad it wasn’t any of you, I’m glad it’s me because this is miserable,” she said.
Despite attending only 13 months of his four years in high school, Randy, who was battling Ewing’s sarcoma, managed to stay involved. “He pushed on to get his driver’s license, to fall in love, to be on the golf team, to do broadcasting at Park, to be in Young Life, to be in the Technology Student Association,” Stephens said.
Even while going through aggressive treatments, Randy was still the bright spot in any room.
His friends flocked to him for advice on life’s little problems. “Even his peers said he never complained,” Stephens said. “He told his story, but he told it as a positive thing, you know? And that amazes me, I am very I guess humbled to have been blessed with such an amazing individual as my son.”
In his short 18 years, Randy met the love of his life, traveled to the Super Bowl to see his beloved Pittsburgh Steelers, passionately followed the Wheeling Nailers, and became the West Virginia ambassador for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. He was picked as a freshman mentor, and loved sports.
“That’s why he didn’t crawl in a hole, he got out and lived life to the fullest,” his mom said.
He watched documentaries on every topic in case his life was was cut short, because he wanted to learn everything he could.
Randy lost his battle on February 25, 2013, surrounded by his loved ones.
Since then, his family has started a golf scramble in his name, which helps members of the Wheeling Park Golf Team further their education. Liz said starting the golf scramble has helped her with the healing process. “It brought us back to life, and that was one of his fears, was that after he left us, what would become of us. He said ‘I don’t want my legacy to be I ruined everyone’s life.'”
Liz said while it’s hard to move forward, she thinks of Randy to get her through tough days. “He ended up being my teacher, instead of me being the mom and guiding him, he left me with a lesson that I just can’t ignore,” she said.
Liz said Randy’s battle never defined him as a person, but it did make him even stronger. “Through cancer, it helped him be you know, who he was. But really, he was already that person. Cancer just didn’t take who he was, and he actually thanked me for that, in a card he said ‘thank you for never letting cancer change who I was going to be.'”
The Randy Stephens Jr. Memorial Golf Scramble is scheduled for August 20, 2016.