VOLGA, S.D. (KELO) – Throughout the course of life, many of us, if not most, will come across some sort of adversity. For Sioux Valley’s Hayden Ruesink, his biggest challenge came during his youth within an experience that has shaped him into the young man he’s become today.

“I often call him my hero and sometimes when things get tough in my life or I have to deal with some situations that aren’t the most fun, I often reflect on what he went through,” Moe Ruesink said of his oldest son.

Sioux Valley senior forward Hayden Ruesink; now a flourishing athlete on the hardwood, who nearly never had his chance.

“In 5th grade, my knee just started to swell up for random reasons. It just started swelling and we had no clue why. “We finally went into the doctor and they said well you’re going to have to have surgery, it’s PVNS, Pigmented Villonodular Synovitis, it’s basically a non life threatening tumor,” Hayden Ruesink said.

Two years later the swelling returned. Ruesink had a second surgery, and just two months later, a third. His doctors would refer him to Mayo Clinic.

“If those surgeries in Mayo would not have success, they told him it was to a point where it would need to be amputated,” Moe Ruesink said.

“There was a point and time where I didn’t even want to be alive. It felt like something like why God, why me? Why did I have to do this, why do I have to go through this?” Hayden Ruesink explained.

But that mindset would change.

“I learned at a very young age that I had to grow up and just realize there’s going to be tough battles but it’s your attitude that matters,” Hayden Ruesink stated.

Although 24 months of oral chemotherapy would follow, his next two surgeries would work. And three years later, during this past season a junior, Ruesink would be named to the Class “A” All-State Tournament team.

“The time and effort that he had to put into that along the way with rehabbing and doing things that were asked of him by doctors and his family makes it that much more of a thrill to see the success story,” Sioux Valley Head Coach Bill Vincent said.

“He’s got great friends, I’m sure he has best friends; Hayden does, but his brothers are really close to him and they don’t always act like it but you know how brothers are sometimes, they’re poking and prodding and goofing around but truly they’re really close to each other and I think this whole thing that Hayden went through brought them even closer,” Moe Ruesink explained.

“Don’t give up hope. Trust in the Lord, Trust in his plan. This is all happening for a reason. It’s not something that’s just happening just to you, everyone is struggling but you have to trust the process, you’re going to come out greater,” Hayden Ruesink claimed.

Hayden’s basketball career will continue next year at Dakota Wesleyan.