Clovis Teen's Battle with Cancer Inspires an Entire Community

May 13, 2009 12:43:52 AM PDT
A Clovis High baseball player battling brain cancer received a big honor before the rivalry game between his school and Clovis West.16-year old Johnny Martin was diagnosed five months ago on the day most teenagers look forward to getting their drivers license.

Johnny was well known before this, he's now probably the most popular guy on campus. Classmates say his optimism and warm personality have moved them to reach out to Johnny and his family in a big way.

There's something about Johnny Martin that has brought Clovis High School together. You can see it in the way the Cougar Baseball Team rallies around him.

Johnny Martin said, "It helps a lot knowing they are just there as friends, not family, just as friends and that's amazing."

Clovis High Baseball Coach James Patrick said, "Just a happy, happy kid. Great to be around, great personality. I've had him on the baseball field, in baseball camps, as our bat boy. I've had him in class as a PE student. He's in Leadership Class in school. He's really a nice kid."

Five months ago, severe headaches led doctors to discover a brain tumor. His parents still get emotional when they talk about hearing the news.

Johnny's Mother Candice Martin said, "You hear about this all the time but you never think it's gonna happen to your own child. I just fell to my knees and started to pray. I was devastated."

Friends say Johnny's cancer immediately put things into perspective.

Joe Gustafson said, "It's made life that much more precious. Seeing my good friend just get brain cancer just like that, it really just made me sit down and think wow, my life could end anytime so."

And it prompted a group of his friends from Leadership Class to take action. They held a big fundraiser to help his family with all of the extra expenses they will have to cover while Johnny fights for his life. Classmates wanted Johnny's parents to be able to focus on their son.

Tyler Ryska said, "I would say helping with the grocery bills, medical bills, we bought him an Xbox 360 one time. Just to bring joy to him during these times."

For Johnny, the biggest disappointment has been missing the baseball season. Tuesday Johnny threw out the first pitch and received a surprise from the Air National Guard, a Metal of Courage. "Johnny endured the chemotherapy and recuperation with great strength and determination."

A reminder of what he's been through and what's to come. Johnny can see the support every time he looks into the stands and sees those orange shirts.

Johnny is at Children's Hospital Tuesday night getting a blood transfusion since his blood counts were low. Next week his family will head back to San Francisco for another round of chemotherapy. So far, after close 10 thousand dollars has been raised to help with expenses.

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