John Challis

John Challis' two-year battle with liver and lung cancer has ended, but the inspiration the young man gave to so many will live on. John was more than a teenager battling a terminal illness. The Freedom High School graduate became a spokesman for positive thinking, and his attitude brought national attention. “Everybody is scared," he said of living with the deadly disease. "It’s not normal to not be scared. I have letters and other things from people, telling me how I’ve helped so many people in numerous ways. That makes me feel good.” During final months of his life, John watched a Penguins playoff game with Mario Lemieux, was featured on ESPN television, addressed the Pirates before a game and spent an afternoon with Alex Rodriguez at the New York Yankees' penthouse in Manhattan. But despite the well-known company he kept, John's actions and words while he battled the disease brought hope to so many.

Published in Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from Aug. 19 to Sept. 19, 2008