Softball umpire in Omaha refuses to let cancer win

A 53rd birthday party for “Rhino.”
Published: Jun. 28, 2021 at 8:19 AM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - He’s always called them as he sees them, but Ryan Willms didn’t see a surprise coming: a 53rd birthday party for “Rhino.”

“Ready, yeah, surprise! Happy birthday!”

Willms, who has umpired softball almost half of his life, most of the games he’s called have been in the Nebraska Senior Softball League. And this one time, players can say something, knowing the ump won’t throw them out.

“That’s the same blindfold you wear on the field, ain’t it?” joked another player.

Willms is battling stage 4 pancreatic cancer and begins intensive chemo treatments this week. But senior softball players want him to know even an umpire is allowed to have teammates.

“Honorary member of the Nebraska Softball family!” another player shouted.

Willms still checks in on softball games around the metro. Although a little weak, the umpire said he hope players see his determination to get behind the plate again.

“This means the world,” he said, in tears. “Words can’t express can’t express what you guys have done for me. “I’m fighting this, not to the end, but all the way through. I’m going to be back on that field 100%.”

A GoFundMe site has been set up for umpire Ryan Willms. So far, $6,700 have been raised to help offset his medical costs.

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