CRANBERRY TWP — Jeff Danner’s time on earth may have been cut short, but he made quite an impression while he was here.
The 1982 Mars High graduate, who died after a courageous battle with leukemia in 1984, will be posthumously honored with an induction into the district’s sports hall of fame.
“It is a big honor for our whole family,” said Valerie Danner, Jeff Danner’s sister.
Sports, in particular basketball, has always been important to the Danner clan.
“It was just part of our family,” Valerie said.
The first two Danner children, brothers Dave (Class of 1973) and Craig (1976) both represented Mars on the hardwood. Valerie followed suit for the girls team.
Danner picked up basketball in sixth grade and it became his favorite sport.
“We had a basketball hoop in our backyard and there were a lot of games of 2-on-2 between us,” said Valerie, a resident of Cranberry Township.
By his junior season, Jeff was a major contributor for the Planets’ varsity team. At 6-foot-2, he switched back and forth between point guard and shooting guard for head coach Dave Skurcenski.
“He had a great junior year,” Valerie said. “He was always making these great passes.”
In the late fall of 1981, Jeff Danner was looking forward to his senior season when he began to feel physically drained on a regular basis.
“He would come home from school and sleep for a while, then get up to eat dinner and then go back to bed,” Valerie said. “We thought he had mono.
“It was just after Christmas that we found out it was leukemia.”
Faced with the biggest challenge of his life, Jeff Danner’s attitude toward his illness was inspiring to those close to him.
“He was the only one in the family who didn’t say, ‘Why me?,’ Valerie said. “He just looked at it as an obstacle and he planned on beating it.”
Jeff Danner lost his battle with leukemia in October 1984.
Danner’s parents, Bob and Betty, started the Jeff Danner Memorial Scholarship alumni basketball games shortly after their son’s death and it was an annual event for 25 years.
The games have been discontinued, but scholarships are still awarded each year to deserving senior members of the boys and girls basketball teams.
“It’s a great way to honor Jeff,” Valerie Danner said. “That’s why my parents started it.”
Bob and Betty Danner still live in the Valencia home where they raised their four children.