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Last updated: 02/22/2013 7:35 PM

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OSU Athletics
Buckeye Cruise for Cancer: Prologue
By Brandon Castel

The light at the end of the tunnel; that’s what keeps us going.

For me, that light was a massive cruise ship in the Gulf of Mexico, the tunnel a six-hour delay at the airport in Newark, N.J. as we awaited our flight to Tampa on Wednesday.

It all started in Columbus, like most of the stories of those who flocked to sunny Florida this week for the sixth annual Buckeye Cruise for Cancer.

We were fortunate enough to land a spot on this year’s cruise thanks to our partnership with Travel Partners of Dublin, a group that works tirelessly for months upon months to insure this event is a smashing success each and every year.

Last year, the Buckeye Cruise raised over a million dollars, with a little help from Ohio State’s new football coach and his dazzling wife. The new Commander in Chief and First Lady of Buckeye football were flown in to surprise last year’s cruisers. This year, Urban Meyer and his wife, Shelley, were the headliners of an event that has helped to carry on the memory of Stefanie Spielman and so many other brave people who fought the good fight -- and are still fighting it today.

Back in Columbus

Before we get to the cruise, we have to go back to Old Ohio Town, where the temperatures were in the teens on Wednesday morning when we embarked on our journey south.

That journey would take us northeast, where we spent some unexpected time in the Garden State before we ever made it down to the land of sunshine. Because our flight sat on the runway in Columbus for over an hour – we were supposedly waiting on some infamous United Airlines ‘paperwork’ – we missed our connection in Newark.

We were put on standby for the 2 p.m. flight, but that also came and went. Fortunately, we made a group of new friends, many of whom came with us from Columbus, but some who were flying to Tampa from other parts of the country.

Sergio works at Chase Bank in Columbus and spent about 30 minutes explaining his job in fraud detection over a Sam Adams at the Oyster Bar. (Side note: it’s amazing what people will try to get away with these days.) He was headed to Tampa to celebrate his birthday with some friends and Anne was heading south on vacation.

Jesse was flying in from Boston where he was playing in a band just for fun. He likes to do that. He is total hippie who moved to Portland when he was young. Jesse had the outline of a marijuana leaf on his hat – nobody tell the police in Tennessee – and he works as a horticulturist. He was headed to Tampa to see his mom who had not seen in over two years.

It was great to share stories and laughs, but even better to find a cushy seat on the 5 p.m. flight where I could finally rest my eyes.

It had been a long day, but we were finally headed for Tampa.

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