Thursday, December 23, 2010

Our Inspiration and Hero

People often ask me how I am so strong.  I am not strong, I do not have a choice.  I do, however, have an amazing group of people who love us and care for us and get us through the tough time.  One such person is Peter...often mentioned in this blog.  He is Sammy's rock...our rock...and through his amazing grace and strength, we see what can be in our Sammy's future.  If Sammy turns out to be even half the man Peter has become, we will be very happy indeed.  Below is an article that appeared in the Pelham Weekly and on the following website  I have 'borowed' it to highlight why we love and respect this young man so much.  He is, in every sense, a hero and role model to all.

Fri Sep 24, 2010 12:00 AM

Pelham's Manos an inspiration to others

Josh Thomson

PELHAM -- Standing like stone before practice Tuesday, Pete Manos looked like the living, breathing embodiment of a healthy teenager. At 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds, he strikes a figure that is more lumberjack than workout warrior, like the chisel chose to carve his jaw rather than his biceps.
Pelham's Pete Manos is a warrior both on and off the football field.

Since last December, when the Pelham football team began offseason workouts, Manos' teammates followed his lead, and not just because he is bigger or stronger than them, although that is true. They followed him because they believe in the example set by the two-way starting lineman who has overcome more than 300-pound defensive tackles to get where he is today.

"He has worked so hard that everyone can't help but listen to what he has to say," coach Dave Moskowitz said.
Five years ago this fall, the Pelham senior began a fight against leukemia that dragged him through two years of intravenous and oral chemotherapy and the dark times that accompanied it. Not only has Manos recovered and blossomed into an ever-improving football standout, he even spends his free time fighting the cause that threatened to take his life.

"I work as hard as I possibly can for as long as I possibly can," Manos said as his team prepared for tonight's game against fellow unbeaten Our Lady of Lourdes. "I know tomorrow may not be there. I know that in a day it could all be gone."

That fear raced through his mind and those of his family members the summer before seventh grade. A lump in Manos' neck swelled almost overnight. Doctors eventually discovered he had acute leukemia, a common form of aggressive but treatable cancer found in children.
Manos, just 12 at the time, spent much of the next year at home. Community support included each of his seventh-grade teachers visiting him on free afternoons.
Working together with them, Manos stayed on the honor roll, but life wasn't easy. His mother, Gina, became determined to find the best nutrition and supplements to maintain her son's strength. She spent hours on alternative methods, hoping if her son could envision himself as a powerful warrior he would become one again.

Still, "at the end of the first year, he was beat up," Gina said. "He was very weak."
Manos improved. He returned to school full-time the following year and finally finished with chemo completely in September of 2007.
As a freshman, he played basketball and baseball but had to wait until a port was removed from his chest to return to football. That came the following year, when Moskowitz added him to the varsity during camp.
The transition after four years away from the game was slow, but Manos become a starter at right tackle last year. Now, he plays left tackle and defensive end while also serving as a captain and, at school, as class president.
"He's a dominant player for us," Moskowitz said, "and still just scratching the surface."
Recovering from leukemia presented Manos with more than just a physical challenge. Beginning in 2006, his family grew deeply involved with fundraising and providing education to fight the cause.

Manos works as a volunteer with the Westchester/Hudson Valley Chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. He shares his story at school assemblies and talks to children who are confronting the disease for the first time. That includes Sammy Zweig, a Prospect Hill Elementary School student from Pelham who was diagnosed last year.
"It's been great to have him," said Barbara Gallagher, the campaign director for the local chapter. "When the kids hear it from a survivor, especially someone like him, it really hits home."
The Manos family formed a team, called (intentionally) "The Warriors," for the annual "Light the Night" walk at Rye Playland. They have drawn more than 200 people to the fundraising event, including the entire Pelham football team.
That type of support has made the family one of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's biggest fundraisers in the country, raising almost $300,000 since 2006. Manos' dad, Peter, has also helped sponsor the event with his business, JDP Mechanical, Inc.
So whether it's fall nights on a football field or at Playland where he is surrounded by friends and fellow survivors, Manos is an inspiration to others. He defeated leukemia, a battle he'll never forget.
"I never wanted him to feel like a victim and he absolutely doesn't," Gina said. "He's going to take this and be a guide for others."

Thank you Peter! xxx

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