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Inspirational Pittsburgh-area teen dies of cancer

Posted Oct 02 2008 4:23pm

Inspirational Pittsburgh-area teen dies of cancer

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Associated Press - August 19, 2008 11:53 PM ET

PITTSBURGH (AP) - John Challis, who inspired professional athletes with his battle against cancer, died Tuesday at his parents' home in suburban Pittsburgh.

Challis made national headlines when he threw out the ceremonial first pitch at a Pittsburgh Pirates game against the New York Yankees in June. He left the Pirates this motivational message on their message board:

"Have fun," he wrote to the Pirates. "It's the reason we play ball."

The 5-foot-5, 93-pound teenager was diagnosed with terminal cancer when he was 16.

He spoke candidly about his initial fear of death and then his determination to achieve his goals before succumbing to the cancer that had spread to his liver, lungs and other parts of his body.

Yankee All-Star Alex Rodriguez was 1 of the athletes touched by Challis. He called the young man: "very smart. He had a huge heart. I was just proud I got to spend a whole day with him."

John Challis was 18.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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