John Challis died Tuesday afternoon. If you don't know the name, you probably know his heartbreaking but inspirational story: An 18-year-old living with terminal cancer whose determination and unparalleled spirit stirred intense emotions in others. In one case, his story was touching enough to turn one man away from suicide, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Sports played a key role in his story, as symbolized by the Courage for Life Foundation that continues his legacy.
Challis earned national attention for his pinch-hit appearance for Freedom High School's baseball team in April. His connection to hockey was also noteworthy: The Pittsburgh Penguins invited Challis and his family to watch an Eastern Conference finals game against the Flyers, partially form the owner's suite. At one point, Challis found himself conversing with Mario Lemieux, Pittsburgh Steelers chairman Dan Rooney and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
Here's a video of John's visit to Game 2 at Mellon Arena; and hey, the kid liked fighting, too.
He lost his battle with lung and liver cancer at his family's home in Freedom Township, Pa. The Penguins offered condolences in a statement; so did the Pirates, Yankees star Alex Rodriguez, Everything Pittsburgh and Mondesi's House.
Condolences to his family and friends; here's a glimpse at John and his life from WTAE: