UTAH TECH UNIVERSITY'S STUDENT NEWS SOURCE | May 21, 2024

DSU alumnus, cancer survivor to climb Mount Everest

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Broke, homeless and no where to go. That’s how a man’s life began before he enrolled at Dixie State University.

Jon “Sticks” Platten was an aspiring actor in the 1980’s. Platten had just finished filming the movie, “Killer in the Family,” when he finally hit rock- bottom, he said.

“After filming, I actually lost my parents because they didn’t like my acting career,” Platten said. “I was left there [St. George] all alone; I had no family, no friends and no place to stay.”

Platten said he spent most nights behind Dixie Rock or would stay in unlocked sheds when it got really cold. Without a job or anywhere to stay, Platten said he eventually contemplated suicide.

“I told the Lord I said, ‘If this is what life has to offer me I want no part of it,'” he added.

However, the moment he struck up a conversation with a DSU student, his life took a dramatic turn. He encouraged Platten to be a radio host and later met the Dean of Students Ben Fowler, he said. 

Platten said Fowler came up with the funds to enroll him as a student at DSU.

“If Dixie wasn’t there and hadn’t taken me in, I either wouldn’t be here or be the person I am today,” Platten said.

Platten became the station manager for DSU’s KRDC 99.3, where his career really took off, he said. Platten was on air when KDLX radio heard his show and immediately drove to the station to hire him, he said. Platten worked for KDLX radio for three years until moving to Salt Lake City to pursue his acting career. He has starred in 37 major motion pictures, television series and commercials. 

“I attribute all my success to DSU,” Platten said. “They taught me things and they helped me develop all my talents.”

Platten said he cherishes DSU so much that he started a memorabilia collection. 

“He is one of those students who really caught the Dixie spirit,” Art Professor Glen Blakley said.

Blakely has also helped expand Platten’s collection over the years. Platten said he has over 70 pieces of DSU memorabilia, ranging from the past to the present. 

“A lot of basketball players were in my class, so they gave me an autographed basketball that I gave Jon,” Blakley said.

After working at DSU for 20 years, Blakley was awarded a DSU watchband that he also gave Platten, he said.

“There isn’t anyone on this planet that loves Dixie more than I do or has a larger collection of memorabilia like I do,” Platten said.

Platten has also just overcome another life- threatening battle recently. He was diagnosed with colorectal cancer in January 2015, which is the second leading cause of death in the United States.

“I was devastated,” daughter Shaylie Platten said. “It was really hard for my mom and I.” 

Shaylie Platten said that although her dad was diagnosed with cancer, she remembered that it isn’t a death sentence. After all of his surgeries, Platten said he went from 226 pounds to 162 pounds. Eight chemotherapy sessions later, Platten said he has been cancer free for almost six months. After hearing about his story, Radiating Hope reached out to Platten to see if he’d be interested in being a cancer survivor ambassador.  According to radiatinghope.org, it is a non-profit, mountain climbing organization that’s dedicated to improving cancer care around the world. 

As an ambassador, he will go with other volunteers for the first time to climb Mount Everest this April. He started a gofundme account to earn enough money to pay for his mountain gear. Platten said while he is there he will place prayer flags on the peak of Mount Everest to honor cancer patients.

According to radiatinghope.org, “It is traditionally believed that as the mountain winds blow the flags, and the fragile threads drift away into the breeze, that each thread sends off a prayer of hope, strength, and well-being for the cancer patients they honor.”

Radiating Hope also plans to donate a radiation machine to the Kathmandu Cancer Center, Platten said.

“I’m really nervous but excited to go,” he said. “I’m not just going on behalf of myself; I’m going on behalf of millions of cancer survivors.”

For those interested in tracking his journey, visit radiatinghope.org for GPS updates this April.