April 17, 2014

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Football helps Clearview’s Anderson cope with father’s health problem

Clearview’s Chad Anderson was preparing for high school — a 14-year-old with the world in front of him — when his father went to the hospital to check out what he thought were kidney stones on Aug. 15, 2008.

That was the day the Andersons’ lives changed. The doctors had some bad news — non-alcoholic cirrhosis of the liver. Without a new liver, Brad Anderson, father of Chad and four older brothers, was not going to survive.

This was a lot for an incoming freshman to take in, but the continuing story has headed in the right direction since the disheartening prognosis. Rhonda Kilian, Brad’s cousin, donated more than half her liver and the transplant surgery that took place Aug. 13 at the Cleveland Clinic has been a success.

The community rallied around the family, holding fundraisers and soliciting donations online to give the Andersons the financial ability to place Brad on the transplant list.

For this, Chad has one simple message.

“I just want to say thank you, but I could never thank everyone enough for everything they have done for me and my family,” he said. “We appreciate everything everyone has done and my family knows how fortunate we are to have these people around us.”

During the ordeal, Anderson has used what he calls his “football family” to escape the constant worry about his father. His Clippers currently sit at 5-2 overall, and 3-1 in the Patriot Athletic Conference. Tonight they host a 3-4 Lutheran West team that has won all three of its road games this season. It’s a game Clearview has to win if it hopes to keep pace with Columbia in the Stripes Division standings.

Anderson has been dominant on the field this season. As a running back he has picked up 864 yards on 164 carries (5.3 yards per carry) and has scored 11 touchdowns. Defensively, the linebacker leads the Clippers with 10.9 tackles per game. He has four sacks, an interception and a forced fumble.

At times, Clearview coach Mike Collier is amazed with how Anderson has been able to be so productive on the field while dealing with everything he has been forced to off it.

“It just shows you the toughness that his dad has given to him,” Collier said. “He’s shown him how to work through adversity and all the things he has been through emotionally in the last couple of years. It really shows you the kind of character the kid has.”

Last week in a conference game at one-loss Oberlin, Anderson took over. He ran through the Phoenix defense for 243 yards and four touchdowns. When Oberlin had the ball, Anderson was a wrecking ball, piling up 12 tackles. The result was a 36-14 Clippers romp.

“Football has been a release for me,” Anderson said. “It’s what I love to do, and I really love coming out here every day with my team and going at it … working with them to get better every day.”

The Clippers, after a pair of puzzling losses to teams that are currently 2-5, remain in the middle of playoff contention. If Clearview were to run the table, the chances are very good that they will qualify for a postseason berth … and that’s what Anderson envisions.

“I see us winning the conference championship and making an appearance in the playoffs, but we’re taking things week by week,” he said. “If we take care of what we have to take care of every week, we will be there at the end of the season.”

Regardless of what happens on the field this season, the year has been a success for the Clearview community. When one of its own needed support, it showed what it could accomplish. Football, Collier said, has been a lynchpin.

“Here at Clearview we always talk about family coming first and we feel like our team is an extended family,” Collier said. “We’ve always did everything we could to be there for the Andersons and I think that has brought us closer as a team … really as a community.

“It has all helped us to stay focused on what is important in life — that football is just an extension of life that teaches us about battling through things, learning about discipline and about how we can count on each other … all those great things you can learn through football. It’s definitely something we’ve rallied around.”

Anderson has learned a lot about life as well.

“It has definitely given me some perspective,” he said of his father’s illness. “I live for every day, love the people that love me and fight for what I believe in.”

The Andersons remain in a financial battle. Brad Anderson’s medicine costs over $5,000 a month, and his 22-year career at the steel mill ended on that fateful day in 2008. To make a donation, please visit www.bradandersonfund.com.

Contact Mike Perry at 329-7137 or ctsports@chroniclet.com.