Paterson HS athlete, cancer survivor is finalist for ‘Heart of a Giant’ award

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A Paterson Eastside High School sophomore is among the finalists for USA Football’s “Heart of a Giant” award.

Kelvin Medina was 8 years old when he was diagnosed with leukemia.

“I have a memory of the doctors asking me, ‘What was the pain?’ Like from 1 to 10. And I was like ‘10’ because I couldn't stand it,” he says.

Medina went through a year of chemotherapy and says that he tried to stay positive by thinking about his friends and family. But another way that he made himself feel better is by watching football.

When Medina was declared cancer-free, his mother Blanca Golden let him sign up to play.

“I was pretty happy because my mother had signed me up for a football camp so that I could actually play and one of the coaches that was there coached for the Silk City Cardinals. He told my mother that he wanted me on his team because of how passionate I was about this game,” Medina says.

It has been five years since that camp and the now-17-year-old is the starting center for Paterson Eastside. This season he helped his team to a 4-4 record. He was even voted team captain.

“I don't take my life for granted because of what I went through,” he says. “I keep pushing myself, doing better in school and doing better in football and nothing stops me.”

That attitude is one of the main reasons his coach James Magazine nominated him for the “Heart of a Giant” award. Medina says he hopes that getting his story out there will make a difference.

“To kids that had cancer – never give up and always do the best that you can in life,” Medina says.

The award is presented by the Hospital for Special Surgery and the New York Giants. Ten of the finalists will receive money for their high school football programs once judging concludes.

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