First Shot to Fight Cancer

The Nationwide Children’s Hospital Championship’s First Shot to Fight Cancer is the manner by which the tournament customarily begins its professional competition. It is a tradition that helps boost the spirits of all patients being treated for cancer and brings hope to the countless families affected by the disease. It also serves as a reminder of the most important reason the tournament is staged.

The annual shot takes place by a Nationwide Children’s Hospital “Patient Champion” immediately prior to the tournament’s first round starting time.

 Patient Champions

  • 2023: Reid Zupanc
  • 2022: Neil Taylor
  • 2021: Kinley Strohl
  • 2020: Zaven Solomon
  • 2019: Alea Ramsey
  • 2018: Zander Craig
  • 2017: Jack Willis
  • 2016: Blake Hames
  • 2015: Quenten Locke
  • 2014: Ian Straight
  • 2013: Madeline Richardson
  • 2012: Sean Tibbs
  • 2011: Jacob Carlino
  • 2010: Will O’Brien
  • 2009: Akeia Evans
  • 2008: Nick Dipaolo
  • 2007: Chase Meacham


First Shot to Fight Cancer Highlight - Reid Zupanc

The 2023 First Shot to Fight Cancer was taken by Reid Zupanc of Delaware, Ohio. In autumn of 2011, four-year old Reid was excused from school for a routine visit with his ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist. As he prepared to have a second set of ear tubes placed in both eardrums, his mom, Lani, noticed an unusual bump on the top of Reid’s head. Although small, it was still a cause for concern. Lani informed the ENT specialist that she had told their pediatrician about the unusual bump months ago. The pediatrician had assured her it was a fatty cyst that would go away with time. To be certain, the ENT decided to schedule a surgery to remove the cyst and have it tested by pathology.

“A month later, the doctor called to tell us that the bump was benign,” says Lani. “We were so relieved!”

A few months after receiving the benign diagnosis, the bump reappeared on both ends of the incision. Five months later, several bumps appeared in different areas on Reid’s head. The bumps were retested by a different doctor. The results showed the bumps were not at all benign; they were tumors. Reid was diagnosed with a vascular cancer called Epithelioid Hemangioendothelioma in August 2011. This rare cancer affects the lining of the blood vessels in the liver and lungs. Reid’s cancer was even more rare due to the area of its initial growth. Reid immediately began treatment at Nationwide Children’s Hospital. He endured six months of chemotherapy and more than 15 surgeries, including: tumor and lymph node removals, a skin graft, and a lung biopsy.

Reid has remained positive and “full of life” throughout his fight with cancer. Today, Reid is stable and follows up with his oncologist every few months to monitor his health. He is currently in his junior year of high school and is taking college courses. After graduation, he plans to study Neuropathology at the University of London.