Scott Tolzien does a kindness

I wrote a column this week on Scott Tolzien. I didn’t expect to get all of the response I got. I was writing about how Tolzien is in the locker room, and I got letters from the Midwest about how he is as a person. Tolzien reaches out to kids who have cancer and builds and maintains friendships with them. Here is a letter I received unsolicited from the father of one of those kids:

Hello Grant,

My name is Tony Staniak, and I am the father of Ryan Staniak. In January of 2011, Ryan was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a form of brain cancer.  Ryan was 10 at the time, and is now 13.

This was about two weeks after my son Ryan and I returned from California.  Ryan and I flew out to see the Rose Bowl with Scott at quarterback (not knowing him then).  A few months after Ryan’s surgery to remove the cancer, one of my wife’s relatives was a student at UW-Madison, and she talked with Scott Tolzien about my son’s cancer.  He jumped in right away, including having the Rose Bowl team autograph a football for my son, helping with a fund raiser for Ryan’s treatments, etc.

This was not a one-time deal with Scott. We’ve established a strong friendship and Scott routinely posts on Ryan’s Caringbridge site, he calls Ryan at our house to talk, and last year when the 49ers were opening their regular season in Green Bay we got to meet Scott on the Saturday before the game.  Scott could have chosen to spend that time with his family and friends, but in addition to seeing them he asked our family along with two other families that also have kids with cancer to spend a few hours with him at an Appleton restaurant (by the 49ers team hotel).

Scott not only has this kind of relationship with my son, but at least two other kids who are surviving cancer that we met on that day.  Scott’s mother has even posted on our Caringbridge blog, and when my son wrote a piece he called Ryan’s Alphabet for Life, Scott’s mom had it framed and put up one framed copy of it in Scott’s bedroom in their Illinois home, and sent another framed copy to our home.  We are very thankful for all that Scott and his family have done for Ryan and our family.

One more thing I thought I’d attach to the e-mail.  At our Wisconsin Children’s Hospital, to celebrate when a patient’s chemotherapy treatments are complete they have the patient ring a bell.  When Ryan’s day came in October 2011, he wore his 49ers Scott Tolzien jersey on that special day, which is a day none of us will ever forget.

Ryan is doing well.  While he has some items he has to deal with as a result of all the treatments he needed to go through, it has been almost 2 years since the end of his chemotherapy, and his quarterly MRI scans have been all clear from cancer.  We feel very lucky for the gift of more time we’ve received with our son Ryan.

Best Regards,


Here is Ryan’s Alphabet For Life:

A – Always believe

B – Be happy

C – Care for one another

D – Don’t give up

E – Enjoy life

F – Fantastic times

G – Great Experiences

H – Have fun!

I – Interesting facts

J – Jump and have fun

K – Keep your cool

L – Love your enemies

M – Make life last

N – Never stop going for your goal

O – Open your mind

P – Prepare for anything

Q – Quietly help

R – Remember lost ones

S – Stay intact

T – Try new things

U – Utilize time

V – Value life

W – Wait for others to help

X – Xtra fun

Y – Yip and yap to new people

Z – Zip your fly

Ryan ringing the bell