Twenty Clearfield County football players were congratulated for their part in the battle against cancer at the 2019 Mr. Gridiron banquet and awards presentation Sunday.

The event, hosted by the American Cancer Society, was held at Emmanuel United Methodist Church, Clearfield.

ACS Community Manager Susan Babik reported more than $9,000 was raised for cancer research, education and programs that assist cancer patients in their individual fights in the 2019 competition. ACS is a community-based health organization who is committed to eliminating cancer as a major health issue, Babik said.

Michael Eisman of DuBois Area High School was named the 2019 Mr. Gridiron. He raised $1,434.74, the highest total of the 20 football players participating. First runner-up, also a DuBois Area High School player, was Chase Husted who collected $1,258.51. Clearfield Area High School player Alan Myers was second runner-up bringing in a total of $1,155.72.

Other players participating included: Clearfield Area, Trevor Wain and Brett Zattoni; Curwensville Area, Duane Brady, Nick Holbert and Zach Holland; DuBois, Tyrese Williams; Glendale, Tim Williams and Cory Johnston; Moshannon Valley, Joe Bacher, Alex Capitos and Ben Murawski; Philipsburg-Osceola Area, Tyler Anderson, Chase Chapman and Andrew Sypa; and West Branch Area, Eddie Dale, Ayden Gutierrez and Aidan Kephart.

Babik told the audience of approximately 100 which included participating player’s families and friends, “For more than 100 years, ACS has been leading the way from transforming cancer from deadly to preventable. The growth of knowledge of cancer biology has led to remarkable progress in cancer prevention, early detection and treatment. During the 1970s approximately one in four people diagnosed with cancer could expect to live 10 years. Now one in two reach that important 10-year mark due to research-led advancements in tests and treatments, bringing improved diagnoses and better therapies.”

Babik noted this year, nearly 81,000 commonwealth residents will be diagnosed with some form of cancer.

“But there is hope. With the support of volunteers, donors and partners, we are fighting cancer on all fronts and making a difference.

She provided some statistics of how funds raised through events such as Mr. Gridiron are making a difference for Clearfield County residents who have been diagnosed with cancer. Last year, ACS’ Hope Lodge provided more than 400 nights of lodging for Clearfield County residents — a savings of more than $82,000 to those who are traveling out of the county for treatment.

ACS has a wig bank at Hahne Cancer Center. Any resident undergoing cancer treatment can obtain a free wig. ACS also has a live helpline for those diagnosed with cancer or their caregivers, available seven days a week, 24 hours a day by calling 1-800-227-2345.

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“Our vision is a world free from pain and suffering caused by cancer. Our purpose is to achieve it. Every action moves us one step closer. ACS is on a mission to free the world from cancer but until we do, we’ll be fundraising and conducting research, sharing expert information, supporting patients and spreading the word about prevention. All so everyone can live longer and better. Thank you Mr. Gridiron nominees and your families. You have also done something in the fight against cancer. You have contributed more than $9,000 to that fight. Because of events like Mr. Gridiron, we are getting closer to finding a cure. You have truly made a difference,” Babik said.

The speaker for the event was ACS Voice of Hope Mike Wright. He told about his diagnosis in 2004 with a malignant soft tissue sarcoma and his treatment. He said doctors were not encouraging. “I thought it was important not to let cancer dictate my life,” he noted.

Although that treatment was successful, he was diagnosed with the same type of cancer a second time and part of his treatment was to amputate his foot. “The doctor said to me, ‘Would you rather be alive with one foot or dead with two feet?’”

He said it has been nearly 15 years since his diagnosis. “It’s hard to explain what getting diagnosed is like. Some folks survive, others don’t and others survive and then are diagnosed again and they have to do it all over.”

He told the Mr. Gridiron participants, “Thank you for what you’ve done. You are truly the heroes.”