As a coach, John Grandy teaches high school students how to win games that mean little once the final buzzer sounds.
Life is about more than that, Grandy, the head girls coach at Struthers (Ohio) High School, said after running a mile on a chilly, wet Sunday afternoon.
On Sunday, Grandy and about 30 Struthers students came out to run the final mile through Brookfield with Derek Mihalcin as he completed a two-day, 60-mile trek from Akron Children’s Hospital to Yankee Run Golf Course to raise money for Jordan Hammond.
“Jordy” is 5 and has been fighting leukemia for more than a year. The money raised will help her family deal with expenses that aren’t covered by insurance.
“If you can do something for somebody you don’t know, just think what you can do on a basketball court,” Grandy said he told his charges.
“We just came because it’s a good thing to do for a little girl,” Zosia Thomas, 17, said. “It’s just giving back to her.”
Zosia and her Struthers peers were joined by Brookfield High School students, friends and strangers who came out to support Mihalcin and raise cash for Jordan.
Jordan’s grandmother Lucy Hammond was shedding tears in the face of the outpouring of support.
“Isn’t this wonderful!” Lucy Hammond said. “This is amazing.
“This guy drove from Franklin,” she said, pointing out Darryl Pyle, who drove an hour to run the final mile with Mihalcin.
“I read (about Jordan) in the paper and I wanted to contribute and be a part of this,” Pyle said. “I’ve got a granddaughter and it just tore me up to see (Jordan’s story).”
Mihalcin is a Brookfield native who grew up with Jordan’s father Shawn Hammond, who teaches at Brookfield and is head girls basketball coach.
“This was supposed to be difficult,” Mihalcin said, barely winded at the end of the two-day run, much of which included hills.
He came up with the idea to raise money and awareness about Jordan a couple months ago and has been training since. In three months, he ran 500 miles, counting this weekend’s run.
“I won’t be running (again) for a year,” he said. “I’m so proud of everyone in the community. It’s a really good day for Jordy. I’m honored to do it.”
People can still donate to Jordan Hammond through Grace Chapel Community Church, 4075 Lamor Road, Hermitage PA 16148.