Ryan Lingelbach knew the perfect way to honor his Grandma GG.
The 13-year-old Elkhorn boy channeled his love of golf and organized a tournament in her honor.
Proceeds from the tourney will go toward researching the disease that his grandma battled for 23 years: cancer.
Grandma GG, also known as Janet Dean, died in August after battling breast cancer. Dean, 77, first was diagnosed in October 1994.
Doctors were able to treat it and Dean went into remission for more than a decade. Doctors later found a cancerous tumor in her leg. It was removed and Dean outlived her expected prognosis of five years.
In 2015, her breast cancer returned. After two years on an oral chemotherapy drug, the cancer spread elsewhere in Dean’s body, including her brain.
Through her battles with cancer, Dean wouldn’t allow the disease to be the primary topic of conversation. While undergoing treatment, she always had her hair done, makeup on and clothes freshly pressed.
“She had such a positive attitude. She lived life to the fullest,” said Julie Lingelbach, Dean’s daughter and Ryan’s mother.
While Dean was in hospice, Ryan told her of his grand plans for a golf tournament. She offered up a smile and told him, “You can do this.” Ryan said she would be proud of how far his efforts have come.
“Angels always are looking down on their grandchildren,” he said.
Ryan and his mom got the ball rolling with the tournament two months after Dean died. Proceeds from the June 13 tournament will go to the Fred & Pamela Buffett Cancer Center. So far, Ryan has raised $3,250. He hopes to raise $5,000 through the event.
Officials with the University of Nebraska Foundation, which manages the donated funds, said they appreciate Ryan’s hard work.
“He’s an exceptional young man. We’re just really appreciative and excited that he’s doing this for us. It’s pretty impressive,” said Ashley Christensen, development director for the cancer center.
Chicago Cubs pitcher Brian Duensing, who played at Millard South High School and for the Huskers, is sponsoring a hole on the course.
Duensing, who lives in Elkhorn, likes to golf at Indian Creek as often as he can. So when he saw Ryan’s story, he decided to find a way to help.
“I’ve never met Ryan or his family, but when a young teen does something like this, I feel like it says he has a good head on his shoulders,” Duensing said.
Duensing and his wife, Lisa, operate the Brian Duensing Foundation, which helps with pediatric cancer research and aids families dealing with illness. He said he knows firsthand how tricky it is to organize a charity event.
“If I can help this young man get his first one going just a tad, I want to do it,” Duensing said.
Giving back to support research is important, said Ryan, who golfs with a team at Miracle Hills.
“Grandma was a very loving person and a very caring person,” the Valley View middle school student said. “She truly cared about all of us.”