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CureSearch Hero – Max Hersman

Max, a CureSearch Challenge participant will be running his first marathon in memory of his friend, Josh, who passed away from Leukemia in 2014. Read more about their story below, and why Max is so dedicated to funding childhood cancer research. 

“Childhood cancer, let alone cancer in general, had never impacted me growing up until the summer before my senior year of high school. It was 2012 and several football players joined our coach one evening to go visit (formerly) Amplatz Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis to visit with patients and their families. We came across a room where a boy our age, sitting up in bed with a Minnesota Twins hat backwards on his head and playing Xbox, paused his game to welcome us in. His name was Josh. He was from Mounds View, MN and would be graduating the next spring just like us. My initial gut impression was- “he doesn’t look sick or in rough shape? He’s wearing street clothes, he’s playing video games and chatting with us as if we’re at a school lunch table…” Josh had recently been diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia and was undergoing chemotherapy in between finishing up high school and heading to the University of Minnesota the next fall. That first interaction with Josh, I’ll never forget how sincere and honest he was sharing his story with us. He was just another high school “guy”, asking us about our upcoming season, offering a controller to join him on the Xbox, junk food on his bedside table. For all of us there that night, it wasn’t a hospital room on an oncology floor in a pediatric hospital.”

“I moved into the dorms the next fall at the University of Minnesota. It hadn’t been 24 hours since being all settled in, my roommates and I keeping our “open door” policy in effect, when two girls from our floor knocked and asked if their friend could hang out with us and play video games. We introduced ourselves and made room on the futon for him. I recognized him from somewhere but couldn’t put my finger on it. It was deja vu. Once we began sharing our stories, it suddenly all hit me. It was Josh. Our paths had crossed again, nearly a year after first meeting in his hospital room. From that point until Josh passed in 2014, we were the closest of friends. His impact on me, not only personally and the friendship we formed, but in everyday life, is something I cherish and try to honor in everything I do. I believe he helped guide me into my career as a nurse. His bracelet and it’s message “Never, Never Ever Give Up” I’ve worn on my wrist for 8 years now reminds me to keep moving forward and never take this life for granted. Now, joining and fundraising for the CureSearch team and being able to run Grandma’s Marathon this June with him watching over me shows how his memory lives on, as does the memory of each and person affected by cancer.”

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