Cancer is no excuse

Adam Cruthirds’ life is a ‘nonstop grind’

Adam’s Army has currently raised over $150,000 for St. Jude, $100,000 of which was raised at the St. Jude Marathon. Adam has received support from friends and family throughout this entire journey.

Kendall LoCascio, Features Editor/Copy Editor

Senior Adam Cruthirds walked 13.1 miles at the St. Jude marathon arm-in-arm with his friends, pumped with chemotherapy, adrenaline and the knowledge that he had a major surgery the next morning, but he crossed the finish line anyway. This was just another average day for Adam Cruthirds.

Adam, a senior at St. George’s, was diagnosed with leukemia at the outset of his junior year. Since his diagnosis, he has inspired others with his story, impacted the St. George’s community and raised approximately $150,000 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, all while courageously battling cancer.

Imagine trying to learn pre-calculus without upper school math teachers Ms. Page McMullen or Mr. Jimmy Oxsalida. It’s a terrifying thought to many students, but Adam did just that last year.

“I think I was one of the first-ever patients to be learning pre-cal because most of them are learning addition or subtraction,” Adam said. Keeping up with school was an intimidating task, but his teachers jumped on his side and helped him. “Ms. Vasil would come to the hospital sometimes. She was so nice.”

If anyone thinks they have an excuse to complain about school stress, it’s Adam. He managed to maintain good grades and squeeze in AP classes, all while receiving treatments at St. Jude several times a week.

“[Keeping up with school] was definitely hard because I was learning new stuff, but I was learning it all at St. Jude,” Adam said. “They have a school program underground, literally below the first floor, that I went to every day for at least an hour.”

Senior Sophia Quesada said she is impressed with Adam’s determination and how he manages to balance everything while staying dedicated.

“He’ll have a doctor’s appointment at eight in the morning, and then he will come to school for like a period, and then go back to the hospital.” Quesada said. “He finds time for everything.”

“That’s the typical day,” Adam said. ”It’s just a non-stop grind.”

Besides keeping up with school, one of Adam’s achievements has been how he has immersed the St. George’s community with St. Jude.

I feel like I have made an impact by bringing St. Jude here.”

— Adam Cruthirds '16

At the beginning of the school year, Adam established the St. Jude Club here at St. George’s with the help of senior Sope Adeleye and junior Kneeland Gammill. Though the club is new this year, 50 people signed up within a week, and 40 of those individuals attend meetings regularly. Just this school year, the club has held dog washes to raise money, participated in St. Jude events, including the walks and runs, the ride and the marathon and selling Team Carson and Adam’s Army t-shirts.

“To have buses come out to the marathon and things like that, it’s just been amazing. There’s been hundreds and hopefully thousands of people in the community that have learned about my story and that have learned about St. Jude,” Adam said. “I feel like I have made an impact by bringing St. Jude here.”

One of Adam’s goals was to raise money for St. Jude, not only so he could give back for what they have done for him, but to leave his own mark there.

“For Adam’s sake and the sake of his Senior Independent Study, I hope that they are successful in raising the $100,000 he has pledged to raise,” upper school English teacher Ms. Jennifer Vasil said. The student body at St. George’s has participated in countless ways to help Adam achieve his goals, helping him accomplish far beyond what he envisioned.

“What has really inspired me [and] really touched my heart, in ways that I’m often moved to tears about it, is how the student body as a whole has just wrapped Adam up in this and really paid attention,” Mrs. Connie Cruthirds, Adam’s mother, said.

So far, Adam has raised about $150,000 for St. Jude, and the St. Jude marathon raised $100,000 alone for Adam’s Army.

“It’s amazing. All the hard work that the club’s doing really pays off,” Cruthirds said. “There are kids losing their lives, my friends losing their lives, and seeing that money, how it affects them, it’s awesome.”

When two of Adam’s friends, Quesada and senior Katherine Clayton, were asked what their favorite thing about Adam was, they had to think for a second. This was not because they didn’t have an answer, but because they had too many answers, too many great things to say about Adam.

“He does not use his cancer as an excuse,” Clayton said. “When he was riding, we could tell he was in pain, [but] he wouldn’t stop. At the marathon, we could tell how much pain he was in. He was holding his hips, but he wouldn’t sit. [At the bikeathon], I was on the bike thinking, ‘Alright, if Adam can do this, so can I.’”

After listing many of her favorite things about Adam, Quesada finally shared the quality that defines Adam the most to her.

I was on the bike thinking, ‘Alright, if Adam can do this, so can I.’”

— Katherine Clayton '16

“There are so many things that you think would set him back, or you think he would take a day to just process everything,” Quesada said. “He’s just like any other teenage boy. He just had to learn a lot of lessons other teenage boys don’t have to learn so early on.”

Despite his disease, Adam is living his life to its fullest. Not only is enjoying his senior year and hanging out with his friends and girlfriend, but he is participating in marathons, bikeathons and raising money for St. Jude.

Adam has already placed his footprint here at St. George’s and said that he is hoping to leave a legacy.

“Hopefully, I laid everything down so that, after I leave, someone can still take the reins and keep [the work benefitting St. Jude] going,” Adam said. “I don’t want it to stop.”

The St. Jude Club can continue to participate in St. Jude’s fundraising events, fill the leadership positions open after the seniors leave and can ensure that the Adam’s Army and Team Carson spirit remains in the school. Now, it is up to the student body to continue the work Adam has started and keep his legacy going.

“To me, the chemo is the science of this, but the love from St. George’s and the connection is the healing medicine for our son,” Mrs. Cruthirds said. “When he came back to school, everything changed for him, so we are forever, forever and ever grateful in ways that words are way too small.”