Updated: 11/04/2013 8:23 AM |
Created: 11/04/2013 8:16 AM
By: Heather Mills, KOB Eyewitness News 4
An Albuquerque couple have made it their mission to help a teen and his family. Andy and Sue Hageman say they were inspired by the 17 year old and his battle to live, despite the bleak odds.
It's been a tough road for Zak Lannon, who still has more chemotherapy and radiation ahead of him. It's also been tough for his family, who have taken off work to go to New York for his treatment. But, the Hagemans are hoping they--and you--can make a difference.
Community members in Albuquerque and beyond have come together to support a teen battling a rare and deadly cancer, with a meager 15 percent survival rate.
KOB first introduced viewers to Zak Lannon in May. He was on the gridiron with the West Mesa Mustangs. Unable to play this season, his teammates still rallied behind him and the House of Football stepped in to play.
"It was never meant to be a personal quest," Andy said. He co-owns House of Football with his wife, Sue.
But Andy and Sue Hageman formed a bond with Zak and his family, and now, Zak's fight against cancer is personal for them.
"I'm just touched," Sue said.
It started off simple. They helped create and sell a T-shirt with Zak's phrase, "You never know how strong you are, until being strong is the only choice you have." But it grew.
"We sent one to Roger Goodell at the NFL and we never believed for a minute that the NFL Commissioner would wear, let alone sign a ZaK Lannon tee-shirt. We got it back a day later, signed with his best wishes to Zak and that really set it off," Andy said.
Now, they have 194 authentic autographed items ready for auction.
"All sorts of items you could not imagine getting into one location and it's all to benefit one person and I hope it helps," Sue said.
Zak says he's humbled by all the support. "It makes me feel great, just knowing that I'm not alone," he said.
He's certainly not. With his family, the Hagemans, the community and the sports world behind him through five rounds of chemo and surgery, he's pushing to defeat cancer.
"It's more of a mind over matter thing. If you can continue to tell yourself through all of it, I'm going to make it and it's not this bad, then you will. The moment you start doubting yourself is the moment that it starts to win," Zak said. He says he's not going to let it win.
The Hageman's are hosting a benefit auction for Zak and his family to help them pay for medical bills and travel expenses since much of Zak's treatment is in New York City. The auction is Friday, November 15 at the Courtyard by Marriott.
Tickets can be purchased at House of Football for $50. All the proceeds go to the Lannons. If you're unable to attend, you can still bid. To see the auction items and learn more about the bidding process, visit ZakLannon.com.