Hamburg Pirates red varsity football team fights back against lung cancer

PINCKNEY, Mich. (WXYZ) - Meet the Hamburg Pirates red varsity football team. The players on the squad attend nearby Pathfinder Middle School and get together three days a week to practice at Manly W. Bennett Memorial Park.

But it's what the student-athletes are doing off the field that is making people stand-up and take notice.

Connor Chynoweth is doing more than quarterbacking the football team. He along with head coach Robert Smithpeters, and other football players, found a way to help Connor's Mom, Jean Chynoweth, who lost her job and was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer in both lungs.

"I gotta be real strong," said Connor. "She gets down a lot. I'll come home from school and she'll be crying and I don't know what to do."

Jean has undergone three complete rounds of extensive chemotherapy and 34 radiation treatments. With medical expenses piling up, the Hamburg Pirates are tackling lung cancer in a huge way.

"My Mom went to my coach, and one of my best friends -- his Mom -- she really did a lot too," said Connor. "Her and my coach put a lot together and we came up with this [fund raising effort]."

"One of the Mom's had suggested to me maybe doing a walk-a-thon or something like that and I said, 'I'd really like to keep it all, you know, focused on that one day. What if we did a tackle-a-thon?'"

"Before our first game we went around the neighborhood asking for money and donations," said Levi Collins, who's a member of the football team. "Like for a mile-a-thon, you know, how many miles you run and you get so much money, well, that's the same thing for tackles."

"It went down to my heart," said George Petty, a Hamburg Pirates player, when asked what his initial reaction was when hearing about the news. "I knew I had to do something for her. She's like a family member because I've had many people in my family have cancer."

"This team alone raised $8,000 [and] this community raised $21,000 to help us," said Jean. "I've never seen anything in my life like this. It allows us to concentrate on me getting healthier and eating properly, and exercising everyday and doing the things we need to do to fight this battle and win. The money allows me to do that and not worry where the money is coming from. For the community to help me do that was amazing."

What's also amazing is that the Hamburg Pirates have utilized football to help their team Mom fight back against lung cancer.

Donations can me made to any Fifth Third Bank: HPYFA fund for Jean Chynoweth.

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