Once a year all Varsity High School Coaches from Flagler County to Orange County get together and have the end of the season meeting. They vote on All-Americans, sort out the various All-District nominations, plan the senior All-Star game, and decide on one very special award.
This award is given each year to a person who is associated with lacrosse in the Central Florida Region, but whose contributions transcend the game. This year the recipient went to the director of the Jokers Lacrosse Club, John McCarthy.
The former Cortland Lacrosse player was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML) last fall and was forced to begin a full round of Chemotherapy treatment as the search for a bone marrow donor began.
Once a bone marrow donor was found John checked into the Moffitt Cancer Center for a full months stay in the hospital. The transplant follow up procedures require that he live within two miles of the hospital so even upon his release from Moffitt he was unable to come home to his family. He had to move into an apartment down the street from Moffitt.
John continued to Coach his young Jokers teams last fall through the Chemo treatments and he has continued his role as director of the club by working from his hospital bed during his month long stay at Moffitt and working from his temporary digs in Tampa.
John coaches the 419 Jokers club and is the co-founder/director of the entire Jokers organization which includes over 120 kids. His continued involvement with the club insured that the seasons for the two Junior Division 419 Jokers teams, the Senior 419 Jokers team, as well as the Aloma Jokers and the Creek Jokers would go off without a hitch this spring. While many of these kids have no idea that John has put so much effort and time into their sport, the fun they are having would not have been possible without him.
While John’s wife Ann and his family have been a tremendous pillar of support for him, she credits the lacrosse community for his positive outlook. She said his energy level is very high and he has not had to deal with the depression that so commonly accompanies this type of diagnosis. Ann said that the outpouring of support from his lacrosse friends, both from his playing days and his current role in the local youth lacrosse scene, has been tremendous.
Although some of the side effects of the bone marrow transplant and medications may keep him from battling the heat on the sidelines every weekend this summer, you can bet he will be at as many tournaments as possible.
The folks here at FloridaLacrosseNews.com could not imagine a more worthy recipient of the Person of the Year award. John’s hard work and his willingness to do battle while keeping his family and team in the forefront encompasses everything our sport is all about.
If you would like to learn more about how you can touch the life of someone in need of a bone marrow transplant please visit www.marrow.org. You can also find John on Facebook if you would like to leave some words of encouragement.