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Zach Lederer, Inspiration Behind 'Zaching,' Returns Home after Being on Life Support

"He is an amazing kid who has and will continue to inspire." - Sister of Zach Lederer.

Zach Lederer strikes the 'Zaching' pose for the first time after undergoing surgery for a brain tumor in 2012.
Zach Lederer strikes the 'Zaching' pose for the first time after undergoing surgery for a brain tumor in 2012.
This article was updated at 2:15 p.m. on Jan. 13.

Zach Lederer, the young man who inspired athletes, Hollywood stars and ordinary people nationwide with his courage in fighting brain cancer, returned home over the weekend after being taken off life support. His vital signs were said to be good.

"The way he's handling himself now is so impressive," said Delegate Elizabeth Bobo, Lederer's grandmother.

Bobo said she arrived at Zach's house as the hospice doctor arrived.

"He's home, in hospice care," said Bobo. "He's not receiving any additional treatments. His dad told us that he had a very peaceful night with his parents sleeping in the room with him."

She said the family is taking the difficult news with strength.

"Everyone is taking their lead from Zachary," said Bobo. "It has been that way since we learned his brain cancer returned two years ago.

"He's loving every minute in life he has. He had no complaints with all the treatment he's been through. He's determined to have the best life he can. With him doing that, how can we do otherwise?"

She described his parents and his sister, Julia, as "amazing."

Julia Lederer, Zach's sister, posted an update on Twitter on Saturday that said Zach's cancer spread, causing issues that required him to be put on life support.

"When life support was removed he summoned the strength to continue his battle... He is breathing very well, his vital signs are that of an athlete and he continues to exude love and affection to his family and friends," wrote Lederer.

Julia added that the family hoped to take Zach home and "utilize home hospice."

Lederer, 20, has been a symbol of strength for those fighting cancer after a picture of him flexing his muscles shortly after surgery went viral in 2012 and inspired "Zaching" against cancer. The picture summed up Lederer's spirit as he dealt with brain cancer.

As Lederer's condition worsened, messages of support flowed from the community.

Howard County Executive Ken Ulman tweeted Sunday to Zach, "Thx for showing us what courage looks like everyday." 

Students from Centennial High School, Lederer's alma mater, struck a Zaching pose on Friday in his honor.

Coaches and players from the University of Maryland basketball team also offered their support. Lederer serves as the student manager for the team, according to a Baltimore Sun report.

"I'll dedicate every game for the rest of my career to him, for his strength and his courage and everything he's done for everybody around him," Dez Wells, A UMD player, said in the Sun report.

Coach Mark Turgeon told the Sun, "I got an email from somebody who said, 'He's only 20 years old, and he's touched more people than some people who live to be 80.'"

The Zaching Against Cancer Facebook Page, which catalogues pictures of people Zaching, remained positive as the news broke over the weekend with the following update, "Throughout his fight he has ALWAYS wanted to help others, let's show him and his family that he has and will continue to make a difference in those fighting cancer."

Lederer was first diagnosed with a brain tumor when he was 11. After surgery and radiation he overcame the disease well enough to play football in high school, Patch reported.

He enrolled at the University of Maryland in 2011, majoring in Broadcast Journalism and became the student manager of the men's basketball team.

In 2012, he was diagnosed with a second brain tumor, which spawned the 'Zaching' pose as he emerged from surgery. A third brain tumor was discovered in Sept. 2012, and he underwent chemotherapy that caused him to experience side effects brought on by excessive radiation like walking slowly, and dragging his left leg, according to a Baltimore Sun report.

As he continues his fight, Lederer's sister says he continues to inspire.

"He is giving us another gift and teaching us about strength and endurance all the while supporting others," wrote Julia Lederer, in a post shared on Twitter. "He is an amazing kid who has and will continue to inspire."

Bobo said Zach has been the greatest teacher in her life.

"I've learned more from him than anyone in my life," said Bobo. "He taught me how precious life is and how to be grateful with what we have."



Lisa Haderman January 14, 2014 at 08:39 AM
Prayers to Zach and his family .Miracles can still happen for you Zach
Lisa Rossi January 14, 2014 at 10:02 AM
I interviewed Zach for a story that ran in Patch in 2012 --- I was struck during the interview how wise beyond his years he was --- and that's a common observation that others said about him as well. He told me, regarding the muscle-man pose he made after his brain surgery that year, that was scheduled, because the childhood cancer he thought he had beat had come back: “If I make these muscles and show everyone how strong I am right now, they’ll stop worrying about me and think, ‘Oh he’ll be great.’” In more than a decade in journalism, my interview with him was one of the most meaningful for me and one that I think of often. He's a special young man who has touched many lives. Sending prayers and good thoughts to Zach and all of his loved ones.

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