Hundreds turn out for push-up challenge to support teen’s cancer fight

UPDATE @ 7:30 p.m. (May 22): Hundreds of people turned out Monday night for the "Pray Collin Strong Event" at Tecumseh High in New Carlisle to do push-ups for the teen diagnosed with a rare form of cancer of the skeletal muscles.

The fundraiser is expected to bring in somewhere in the neighborhood of $50,000 for 13-year-old Collin Griffin, whose medical bills are sure to be in the range of $1 million, event organizer Wade O'Connor said.

"This community has helped me through everything," Collin told News Center 7's James Buechele. "I'll never be able to thank them enough."

Collin, his dad Robert and O'Connor all said the push-up challenge is seen as a symbolic gesture recognizing the fighting spirit of a young man who has done his share of push-ups as a member of the Tecumseh Middle School football team.

"I've always tried to be optimistic through everything," he said. "My coaches have told me that you can't go into a game thinking you're defeated, because then you're going to lose that game. You have to go in there with the mentality that you're going to win.... I have to go into it with the mentality that I'm going to beat this."

The turnout -- which included sheriff's deputies doing push-ups -- was beyond anyone's expectations.

"He's doesn't break," Robert Griffin said of his son, who has been through 52 weeks of chemotherapy. "He's all in. He's fightin'. He's unwavering in his commitment" to beat cancer.

O'Connor said The disease doesn't want him to be successful. O'Connor and event organizers want to turn "pain to purpose" for Collin.


Collin Griffin is not your typical 13-year-old. From his old soul, his size 14 shoe and his 200-pound frame, everything this Tecumseh Middle School student does is big. He is hoping to pay football at Ohio State University one day. But now, this teenager is facing one of the biggest battles of his young life.

Three months ago, no one had any idea what was inside Collin's body attacking him. Then one night he and his parents were out to dinner with Collin's grandmother.

"My grandma said, 'What's that on your neck?' She said look up and there was a big lump," Collin said.

Doctors diagnosed an infection and after several antibiotics and three trips to the emergency room, Collin's parents refused to let doctors send him home. Doctors performed a biopsy and the family waited 3 days for the results. Robert and Erin Griffin said they could not shield their son from the devastating results and the stage 4 cancer now ravaging his body.

"You hear the "C" word and think the worst things," said Robert Griffin, Collin's father.

"Your life changes. Then you find out he has cancer and it really changes," said his mother, Erin. "It's the one time in life, there's nothing you can do but put it in God's hands, doctor's hands and pray."

Now, this 13-year-old is now facing challenges so many of us adults would struggle to comprehend.

"There's a chance I couldn't make it. Scared me," Collin said. "I told the doctor I didn't want to hear it. I'm going to make it."

In April, he started chemotherapy.

"Chemo is hard...I'll tell you that," Collin said. "I threw up 13 of the last 14 days at least twice."

He lost 35 pounds and most all of his hair. On Wednesday, Collin started an aggressive chemo-radiation treatment at Cincinnati Children's Hospital in Liberty Township. He may miss his eight grade school year with all his friends at Tecumseh.

"Those kids in school love Collin. It's fantastic," said Robert.

The students are showing support by sending cards, calling and stopping by for visits. They've even organized a push-up challenge at Tecumseh High School's football field Monday from 6 to 8 p.m. to raise money for Collin's rising medical costs.

Through it all, Collins parents said he has been the strong one.

"There was a moment I broke down in the hospital in front of him and he was in bed and said, 'Dad, come over here.' I bent down and he hugged me. He didn't cry at all and he said, 'I'm going to be okay, Dad. I'm going to get through this.' His strength is unbelievable," said Robert Griffin.

In fact, while playing a game of pool with Collin recently, I could tell that he does not like to anything.

As we finished our game, Collin said that he was lucky to have beaten me. Then he turned to me and talked about another game that he intends on winning.

"Life is a game," said Collin. "Some people get lucky. Some don't."

Now, I cannot help but think how lucky I am to know Collin Griffin and call him my friend.

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