He's had Hepatitis C that he contracted from a blood transfusion since I was born but he didn't know it for awhile, so he would have to go to the hospital here and there until they finally figured out what he had (at the time of his diagnosis, it was called non-A non-B Heptatitis.) I didn't realize what he had or how serious it was because he never complained, never felt sorry for himself, and he always got up every morning and still went to work, putting in 10-11 hour days teaching and coaching no matter how fatigued he felt.
I'll never forget when he and my mom told me he had cirrhosis of the liver. I was a sophomore in high school. I came home from practice and my parents were sitting on the couch. My dad asked me to come in and sit down. I didn't think much of it until he got a little choked up and then I realized this wasn't going to be a good conversation. He said that his Hepatitis C had caused lesions on his liver that were cancerous and the only treatment would be a transplant. He also said he was going to have to stop coaching football at my high school, Upper Arlington, which was his first love. I think he was more upset at having to give up his coaching position than he was at the prospect of getting a liver transplant. I asked him what the next steps were and he said "to get on a (transplant) list." OSU wouldn't take him because he was too much of a risk, so he traveled to St. Louis, Miami, Louisville and Nebraska, getting rejected from all except for Nebraska, which is where he ultimately received a new liver on April 27, 2002. He and my mother lived there while my brother and I stayed in Columbus. We would chat with my mom on the phone but my dad couldn't even say two words without being out of breath. They stayed there, missing my brother's high school graduation, while he rehabbed and finally returned home on Father's Day, June 14, 2002.
|Senior Night, 2004|
Once news got out about my dad's condition, the whole UA community came together and created the Dan Dupler Foundation for donations. I'm not exactly sure how much money we received but just the fact that anyone and everyone wanted to help our family, specifically my dad, really opened my eyes to what a great human being he is.
I truly believe that my dad didn't die from his liver disease because so many people count on him for so much. If he had passed away, a lot of people's lives would've been changed forever and I know for a fact I would not be where I am today. He's given his wife and kids everything we've ever wanted and is one of the most selfless people I've ever met. Although his health problems continue, he's getting his pinky toe amputated on Wednesday (long story) and he's currently being monitored for lymphoma, he still makes everyone around him laugh and he's never stopped giving his children anything we've ever needed or wanted. He makes me proud to be a Dupler.
Coach Dupe: the man, the myth, the legend.