Wenzler’s Warriors show support through Dive Bar fundraiser

Olivia Shackleton, Campus Editor

When Chris Wenzler was diagnosed with cancer, the John Carroll community immediately stepped in to help. Now, as unexpected critical treatments emerge, the community has started to give back to him, as he has given to JCU for over 30 years.

Wenzler has served as the director of Sports Information, and in 2008 was elevated to the position of the University’s first assistant athletic director for communications. Throughout his three-decade long career, Wenzler has received many honors for the lasting impact he has made on Blue Streak athletics.

Wenzler is a prominent member of the Carroll community, as he has participated in various aspects of the University. Not only is he dedicated to the Sports Information department, he has also participated in quintessential John Carroll experiences, such as going on an immersion trip to Ecuador. He is also known for being a mentor to students in Sports Information.

“I wouldn’t be where I am today without Chris,” said Joe Ginley ‘16, an alumnus who now works as the communications coordinator for St. Ignatius High School’s sports.

“Chris really helped launch me in my career. He gave me a chance in the Sports Information department, and it was one of my favorite parts of JCU,” he continued. “He was one of my first mentors, so I definitely wouldn’t have wound up where I am without him.”

In the spring of 2018, Wenzler was diagnosed with multiple myeloma, and he has been in the midst of an ongoing fight with cancer since.

Students and alumni expressed how Wenzler has deeply impacted their lives and helped them develop as professionals and as individuals. Tara Byrne, a senior who works for Sports Information, discussed her experience working under Wenzler. “Working for Chris in Sports Information for the past four years has easily been one of the most influential aspects of my John Carroll experience.

“As an underclassman, being a member of the office allowed me to meet new people and be a part of something I enjoyed on campus,” Byrne said. “As a senior, I realize that I have developed a lot of useful skills that I wouldn’t have otherwise. I think Chris always believed in me and my ability to develop those skills, even when I didn’t.”

Echoing this sentiment, Dale Armbruster ‘14, who was a graduate assistant in Sports Information said, “It’s impossible to feel anything but deep gratitude when talking about my Sports Info experience. I wasn’t quite mature enough to know it then, but the most important lessons weren’t about broadcasting or graphic design. It was about being devoted to work worth doing, to being your colleagues’ biggest supporter, and lifting up those around you.”

Ginley expressed similar gratitude for the lessons Wenzler taught him. “It was a great experience from learning all the professional things—writing, broadcasting, social media stuff —but beyond that, he was such a great influence on my life. He was always positive and had such a big influence on my life and, at the end of the day, he is just a great person.”

Students who know and appreciate Wenzler have begun fundraising for him under the name “Wenzler’s Warriors.” Byrne explained, “When Chris told us that he’d be going into the hospital to do more treatments, Anneke [Carlo] and I were feeling compelled to do something to help. We had seen other organizations on campus have a lot of success from Dive Bar fundraisers. When we considered how many people Chris has impacted, we knew that we could get so many different groups throughout the Carroll community there in support of him, and ran with the idea.

“I felt that if a person is fighting for their life, the financial burden that may come along with it should be the last thing weighing on the minds of them or their family. We wanted to organize something that could relieve just a little bit of that burden for Chris and his family.”

The Dive Bar Fundraiser is on Friday, Dec. 13 from 8-11 p.m. and tickets are $25. Draft beer, well drinks, house wine and pizza are included in the ticket price. Additionally, the Wenzler’s Warriors started a GoFundMe page.

Reflecting on all Wenzler has done for him, Armbruster said, “He’s always had our back. Now it’s time for us to have his.”

Editor’s note: Kyle Kelly assisted on the reporting in this story.