Going gold to fight cancer

Effort to raise childhood cancer awareness strikes home for fullback


Pledge It

Individuals making a total contribution of $100 or more (TD pledges or flat donations) will earn an exclusive Touchdowns Against Cancer 2019 T-shirt! Qualifying individuals will be emailed an order form at the end of the program. Apparel will be distributed at the conclusion of Touchdowns Against Cancer. If you have any questions, contact [email protected]

Samantha Martinez, Writer

On the eve of his kindergarten year, an aspiring football player received devastating news that would forever change his life.
“I was told I would never play football again,” he recalled.
Diagnosed at age 6 with acute myeloid leukemia, senior fullback P.J. O’Toole embarked on a turbulent journey navigating the confusing, isolating and painful reality of childhood cancer.
This Friday, O’Toole will be on the field with his team for the Gold Out game to raise childhood cancer awareness. Fans are asked to don their gold attire to show their support.
Freshmen players will patrol the stands with donation jars to encourage everyone to give to Touchdown Against Cancer with money donated to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.
Touchdowns Against Cancer is a national program created in partnership between MaxPreps, Pledge It and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Varsity high school football teams and their communities can participate in Touchdowns Against Cancer by pledging a donation for every touchdown their team scores this September. Teams will compete to see whose touchdowns raise the most in the fight against childhood cancer.
O’Toole is in second place for money raised individually, while the school is ranked fifth on the team leaderboard.
As age 6, O’Toole’s sickly appearance gained the attention of doctors, and he was immediately sent for blood tests. The diagnosis itself made little sense to young P.J.; however, the notorious “C” word and its strong association with tragedy did not escape him. Cancer, after all, through a child’s eyes is a death sentence.
In 163 nights in a hosital, O’Toole battled the virulent disease, which preys on thousands of kids across the country. The years of hospital visits, oncologist appointments and loss that ensued nurtured his resolve to become an advocate for childhood cancer awareness.
The game’s cause hits especially close to home for O’Toole, and he believes the occasion is motivation to play, not only for the children who now suffer as he had, but also for the friends who were lost along the way.

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