Just got an e-mail from Frank's sis, her 14 year old dog died yesterday. This will be hard on her since she isn't married and never had kids, this pup was her little girl. She still has the mom to this dog who is 16 and taking the loss very hard also. I sure hope she doesn't die very soon.
PITTSBURGH (AP) John Challis, who inspired professional players with his battle against cancer, died at his parents' suburban Pittsburgh home on Tuesday. He was 18.
Challis made national headlines when he threw out the ceremonial first pitch at a Pittsburgh Pirates game against the New York Yankees in June, leaving his home team a motivational message on their message board.
"Have fun," he wrote to the Pirates. "It's the reason we play ball."
The 5-foot-5, 93-pound teenager was diagnosed with terminal cancer when he was 16. He spoke candidly about his initial fear of death and then his determination to achieve his goals before succumbing to the cancer that had spread to his liver, lungs and other parts of his body.
Most of those goals were achieved. He played with the Freedom Area High School football team, where he was a starter as a sophomore before becoming ill.
He met Pittsburgh Penguins' owner and Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux and quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Ben Roethlisberger. When Challis was in New York last month, Alex Rodriguez showed him his apartment and drove him to Yankee Stadium.
"He was a very brave boy," Rodriguez said before the Yankees played at Toronto on Tuesday night. "Very smart. He had a huge heart. I was just proud that I got to spend a whole day with him and I'm touched by the fact that he came to my apartment and spent quality time. It's something that I'll be inspired by for the rest of my life."
In April, Challis fulfilled a dream to play on his high school's baseball team, coming in as a pinch-hitter and drawing cheers even from the opposition when he hit a single into right field.
In June, after graduating from Freedom Area High School, Challis got to take a last cruise with his family. He also set up a foundation to help high school students fighting terminal illnesses.
His only regret, he told reporters in the months before his death, was that he would not be able to get married and become a father.
"I'm a little surprised that people don't understand how easy I think it is for a young person, especially myself, to see this major situation as a positive I mean I don't see it as a positive, but I'm not complaining about it," Challis was quoted as saying in an Associated Press story in June.
"I don't know why people think it's so hard," he added.
Within hours of Challis' death, dozens of people from across the country shared their thoughts and condolences on an Internet guest board.
"My thoughts and prayers to the Challis family. Your son was a true inspiration, blessing and gift. God bless," wrote Pat King of Roanoke, Va.
Pittsburgh Pirates president Frank Coonelly released a statement calling the teenager "an inspiration to each of us."
"John had every reason to complain about his situation, but he chose not to," Coonelly said. "What he did do was show unfathomable courage and great wisdom for someone so young. John's body could not win the battle with cancer, but John's tremendous spirit will live on amongst all those he and his story impacted across the country."
He lived about 15 minutes from me. His memorial service was this morning. It has been on every newscast for days. He was very well liked and will be missed by many. Coach Tomlin of the steelers even mentioned him in a press conference yesterday.
Don had more balls in his voice than most men have in their pants. I've never seen an interview of him before....he had a decent sense of humor...I guess with a career like that , ya HAVE to have a sense of humor. Who in the heck is going to voice movie trailers now? This guy?... The Movie Voice Dude
Daang...Jerry Reed too!!!! I remember a Scooby Doo episode that Jerry Reed was on. The list is getting longer....or shorter, depending on how you look at it. Im glad my name aint on that list. I think I'd have a heart attack if I looked in the obituaries and saw my name there.
The Smokey and the Bandit movies are my husband's all time favorites to watch. Of course I love hearing his part he sings with Elvis in the song Jerry wrote "Guitar Man". He also wrote another song for Elvis "US Male".
I remember him in the Scooby Doo episode too!