COLUMBUS, Ohio — Three-time NCAA wrestling champion and 2016 U.S. Olympic gold medalist Kyle Snyder went to Nationwide Children’s Hospital on Friday with the intention of inspiring children diagnosed with pediatric cancer.
Snyder, however, found out inspiration goes both ways. While he made medals and played cards with children during his visit — part of the work he does with the Casey Cares foundation — a boy dealing with T-cell lymphoma made an impact on the former Ohio State wrestler. That child told Snyder that fighting the illness made him a better person. Snyder couldn’t help himself from talking about what that means on a personal level.
“It just teaches you that people are dealing with things that are much more difficult than what you’re dealing and doing that with the right mindset,” Snyder told Sporting News. “This inspires you to do the same thing.”
Snyder, who will graduate from Ohio State next month, said he will use that motivation to prepare for the World Championships in Budapest, Hungary, on Oct. 20-21. For those who don’t know about Snyder, he’s one of the greatest collegiate wrestlers of all time — a look at his Ohio State bio makes a compelling case for him to be the greatest. And he’s continuing an exciting career at the national level.
There’s a long list of career achievements that back that up.
Kyle Snyder visited Nationwide Children’s Hospital on Friday as part of his work with Casey Cares. (Bill Bender/SN)
He became the youngest wrestler to win the gold medal in the World Championships in 2015 before achieving the same feat at the Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. He was also part of the Buckeyes’ national championship team as a freshman and won the individual national title at 285 pounds from 2016-18.
If you were making a list of greatest Ohio State athletes, Snyder would belong on that short list alongside Jesse Owens, Jack Nicklaus and Archie Griffin, among others. Snyder said those athletes serve as role models and are part of the reason he intends on using his platform to give back in the Columbus area for years to come. That desire also stems from his religious faith — it’s not just an obligation, it’s a responsibility.
In that regard, Snyder is a lot like Owens, Nicklaus and Griffin. He’ll continue to make that impact in Columbus and in his hometown of Woodbine, Md., which is near Baltimore, where Casey Cares is based.
MORE: Ryan Shazier thankful for ‘outstanding’ OSU support
“In the Ohio State community there are so many great leaders, and I’m definitely very thankful to be in an environment where I have people to look up to but I’m also able to impact others with my actions and service,” Snyder said.
That was noticeable for Ericka Banks, a mother whose 8-year-old daughter Klairity was one of the children to spend time with Snyder on Friday. She wore one of those medals, too, but the impact lasts long after those visitors leave.
“(Klairity) is happy and excited and she has something to talk about,” Banks said. “There isn’t a sadness. It made her feel good. It inspires them a lot to battle what they are going through to make something out of themselves. It gives them something to look forward to.”
Snyder is doing the same. He’s preparing for the 2018 World Championships and plans on wrestling in the 2019 World Championships before trying out for the 2020 U.S. Olympic team.
“I want to try to wrestle in as many World Championships and as many Olympic games as I possibly can and keep chasing becoming the best wrestler I can possibly be,” Snyder said. “I’d like to wrestle in five Olympic games and win five gold medals, lord willing, but my main focus is to improve every day.”
For more on the Casey Cares foundation, visit their website at http://caseycares.org.