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DP Salute: Dusty Rhodes

By: Brett Bullard - December 10, 2010

When the name ‘Dusty Rhodes' is mentioned, many think of wrestling. As for this writer, I think of a man possessing a huge heart and a smile that always brightens one's day. No, the man I think of is not the Dusty of wrestling fame, but a man known as Dusty Rhodes whom I still call "Coach" and admire for many reasons, not the least of which is his "love of the game". You see, Coach Dusty is one of the reasons I love the game of baseball and the game of life. And, now, more than ever, I want to honor this man and let him know how many lives he has touched and how many are supporting him in the battle he has so courageously faced the past year and a half. 

rhodesdusty-head.jpgDusty Rhodes, a lifelong resident of Charleston, SC, founded The Charleston Storm (now SC Storm), a traveling baseball team, in 2002. Dusty's mission was to prepare players to play at the high school and/or college level, focusing on academics, attitude and baseball.  Since forming the Storm in 2002, Coach Dusty has sent over 60% of his players to play collegiate baseball.

In June of 2009, at the age of 48, Dusty Rhodes was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer that had metastasized to his liver. Surgery removed the cancerous portion of the colon and regular chemotherapy was administered to hopefully shrink the tumors in the liver.  As with many cancer patients, there were good days and bad days. Amidst the surgery and treatments in June and July of 2009, Dusty and his wife Kelly were expecting their first grandchild. Little Charlie was born July 10, 2009, but the birth was not as anticipated. Little Charlie was fighting for his life in the NNICU unit of the Medical University of South Carolina. He, like his grand dad, continues to face many battles with great courage.  

After many months of chemotherapy in Charleston, Dusty and Kelly started making trips to Pennsylvania every three weeks for advanced treatments. With medical bills mounting, they were informed by the insurance company  that it would not cover  these treatments. The last treatment in Pennsylvania took an unexpected toll on Coach's body and he recently was hospitalized and is currently battling back to gain weight to continue his fight. 

Thursday  night, a fundraiser banquet was held in Mt. Pleasant, SC, to honor this man and his family who have given so much to young people and their families. Ray Tanner, Head Coach of the National Championship University of South Carolina Baseball Team, and friend of Coach Dusty, was guest speaker. I always love seeing Coach Tanner. On this night, what I really loved, was seeing the approximately 1,000 people in attendance to honor and support  my former coach. But, even more, what I loved  was seeing the smile that lit up the room... Yes, Coach Dusty  battled to be with us and let us know he is still fighting and still keeping the faith. Thanks Coach!

To view Dusty Rhodes' Caring Bridge page, click here.