When Jared Andersen was diagnosed with stage 3 cancer in his left hand, he had a chance to fulfill any wish and chose to transform his high school gym’s crumbling weight room.
Andersen, then a student athlete at Firth High School in Firth, Idaho, had wanted to fix the 230-student school’s weight room since he started lifting there in seventh grade, he told BodyBuilding.com. He and his friends initially started the renovation for his senior project, then his mother reached out to the Make-a-Wish foundation to share their story.
"I thought it was very selfless for Jared to be willing, when you have the opportunity to do just about anything you want to do, but to pay it forward to the school I thought was just unbelievable of him," Jeff Gee, Firth High School principal, told KIFI.
Collaborating with Bodybuilding.com’s Lift Life Foundation, Make-a-Wish unveiled the completely renovated room on April 21. The $100,000 room has equipment typically seen in Division 1 colleges and professional teams’ weight rooms, Kirk Calzacorta, supervising manager of Lift Life Foundation, told East Idaho News. The room was renamed “The Jared Andersen Weight Room” after the 17-year-old.
"It's pretty amazing, I didn't think it'd be this big this amazing and I 'm just speechless about all this,” Andersen told KIFI. “I really don't need anything so I guess this helps out my friends in the community and it helps me out a little bit too.”
While undergoing chemotherapy and radiation to treat rhabdomayosarcoma— a cancer of the soft tissue that usually begins in muscles— Andersen, a football player and wrestler, never missed a game and continued to use the weight room to stay active and focus on beating cancer. He first noticed the lump forming in his left hand while lifting weight as a high school junior and initially dismissed it as a cyst, but the lump grew and cancer spread into his arm, Idaho Ed News reported.
Andersen is now in remission, East Idaho News reported.