Stories about Noah

Steve Bigach

While Noah was at the University of Iowa for one of his many stays, the Child Life Specialist set up a meeting with a few members of the Iowa Hawkeye football team. 


If you knew Noah, you knew that he absolutely loved the Iowa Hawkeyes, so he was excited. We all thought that it would be a one time thing-- they would come, talk a little and leave. But, it was different than that. Noah and Steve formed a bond and they got to know each other a little bit. As Kathy and I were starting this website, we thought it would be awesome to get in contact with Steve and have him write something up in Noah's behalf. Here it is.. 


 In Memory of Noah Ohrt:


"It is pretty obvious to those who met Noah that he was a special person. I was privileged enough to be invited into his life during some of his most trying years. As a football player at the University of Iowa interested in a career in medicine, I made a fair number of visits to the Children’s Hospital during my career. Typically a few of my teammates and I would bring signed posters or cards and stop in for a few minutes to talk with patients. But the first time I met Noah and his family I stayed with him for two hours talking football, dirt bikes, and the prom. I became a regular visitor of his during the course of the next year or so as he was in and out of the hospital at UI. To this day, I still have Kathy and Ed Ohrt’s numbers in my phone as we kept in contact to the very end of his fight with Ewing’s Sarcoma.
I was inspired to pursue a career in medicine in part by my time spent with Noah. I was inspired by his light heart and kindness despite carrying such a grave diagnosis. I remember the smile he flashed when he told me he would be healthy enough to take his girlfriend, Kyleah, to the prom. And how much he loved to brag about his brother Zach, and how great he was on a dirt bike. Or the long conversations with Kathy and Ed Ohrt, who embodied strength for their son. I feel honored to have met Noah, and even more humbled to be asked to contribute to his memory. What he may not have known then, but I am sure he knows now, is how much he helped me. His example of courage and strength helped me through some of my most trying times at Iowa, and helped me pursue my dream of a career in medicine. While I wholeheartedly wish we could have met under different circumstances, thank you sincerely for our friendship Noah – it meant more to me than you knew."
Steve Bigach

Hawkeye Football ’08-‘12

CWRU School of Medicine ‘18 


Stories about Noah

Ellen Johanns

If you knew Noah, you knew that he would much rather be outside than in school (just like any other teenage boy). But, when Noah found out it was going to be Mrs. Johanns that was coming to tutor him during the summer, he didn't dread it. We asked if she would write something in his honor, here it is.. 


"Teaching is a wonderful occupation because every year you’re blessed with a new group of unique individuals who will challenge and inspire you in a million ways. For as much time as we all spend devising lessons and planning curriculum, it is always a surprise when I am confronted with the realization that what truly matters in education has absolutely nothing to do with Shakespeare or quadratic equations.  


I met Noah in the second trimester of his freshman year. He sat in center aisle, second seat back, in my ninth grade English class for approximately two months before that seat was empty a little too often. I remember looking at that middle seat like a gaping hole. It shouldn’t have been empty. Instead of rolling his eyes at the stupid Schoolhouse Rock videos I love to use to teach grammar or staring out the window, wondering when he could get the hell out of there to go snowmobiling, Noah was learning about Ewing’s Sarcoma, treatment, and the very different turn his high school career was about to take. 


In my short time in class with Noah, he piqued my interest because a) he was always wearing the colors of my Alma Mater (GO HAWKS!!) so we always had something to talk about, and b) he told me that he hated school, but he always tried his best on writing assignments. He initially wrote a story about a kid and his dirtbike where I learned more about dirtbike engines than I ever wanted to know. There were a lot of numbers in there. It was obvious that he didn’t really “hate” school; he just wanted to be elsewhere, and after a quick lesson on comma splices, his writing was pretty dang good.  


When my principal confirmed that Noah’s seat in my class would remain empty for the foreseeable future and they were looking for someone to home tutor him at his home, I immediately volunteered. Considering the fact that I was teaching 8th grade for the first time, directing all the plays and speech activities, helping to plan prom, planning my own wedding, and working a side gig at Old Navy, I probably had no business volunteering for this job. All I can cite is divine intervention. There are a few times in my life when I can honestly say I heard God loud and clear and followed His directions, and this is one of them.  


I have a million stories from our brief time together: Noah’s fantastic sarcasm, his foul mouth (something we share), his passion for the Hawks (which often manifested itself as extreme annoyance and anger at their inability to get their $h*t together when playing teams far below their talent level), his love for Maddie and Mr. Cat, the wrinkled nose and furrowed eyebrows when I was a little too sunshine-and-rainbows for his never-ruffled personality, the roar of his dirtbike .5 seconds after we’d finished for the day (and before I even got my books put away), the way he loved his mom and her cooking, his genuine interest in farming and his respect for his dad, the way he cherished his siblings and adored baby Maleah, and the way he never tried to downplay his love for Kyleah are just a few. I have met many amazing kids and created tons of memories in my short eight years of teaching, but I look back on my time with Noah as the most significant and life changing time of my entire life. 


 Since Noah’s passing, I have experienced many signs that he is OK. When I still lived in Reinbeck, I would ride my bike to the cemetery in Gladbrook, and while I only rarely felt Noah’s presence there, there was always a little white bird who flew very close to my front tire as I rode home. It always turned and headed back to town once I was out of Gladbrook, though. When I moved, I had a very hard time adjusting to the new building and the lack of memories there. I couldn’t picture Noah in the halls, and I just felt like I’d lost him all over again. One morning I 

walked into the building early and saw Noah coming out of the weight room. Of course, it wasn’t Noah; it was the track coach--similar face shape, coloring, and a Hawkeye hat--but I knew it was Noah’s way of putting his face in those halls for me. Every time I think I haven’t seen him in a while, he always turns up, and although it’s not the same...I’d rather be rolling my eyes at dumb stuff he’s posting on Facebook that could potentially cost him a job later...it helps.  I would not wish the pain of losing Noah on my worst enemy, but I would wish this perspective on anyone who works with kids. Losing Noah means that I look at my career in the classroom differently. Every student deserves some kindness and understanding; every kid needs a little humor in the midst of tragedy (we ​all​ have our tragedies). When God calls, you have to listen, and you have to answer. And it is my profound prayer that there will come a day where no young teacher will have to look at a desk left empty because of cancer."