Clovis teenager defies the odds, honored among "Students of Promise"
Parker Fritsch defies the odds with every step he takes across the Buchanan High School campus.
"I was diagnosed with Philadelphia Positive A.L.L. -- Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia-- at age 2½. I was four weeks away from my third birthday,” he says. “I went under extensive chemotherapy, full body radiation, all while being a three-year-old.”
His battle inspired an outpouring of support in the community.
Some rolled up their sleeves to donate blood and join the bone marrow registry.
Others, opened their checkbooks to buy Parker’s artwork.
The funds helped his parents make ends meet as he received treatments between Valley Children’s Hospital and Duke University.
He credits a bone marrow transplant for saving his life.
His blood drive, known as “Helping Parker’s Pals”, continues to this day.
More than 500 pints of blood have been donated.
“That can save three people for every pint of blood. So tremendous amount of lives have been saved through my blood drive every year,” he says.
Parker is now a junior in high school—and he is thriving.
He works for Buchanan’s baseball program.
He competed in Mock Trial.
He’s on the school’s golf team.
“When I was diagnosed so early, I got so many things taken away that a normal child could have. Normal children could go outside and play Where I was on heavy rounds of chemo which weakened my immune system,” he says. “I just want to do everything. My mom says it gets very annoying sometimes trying to keep up with it all but, she manages somehow and I’m extremely grateful for that.”
He got his license last year and recently bought a car, alleviating some of the pressures on his mom.
“He is a go-getter. Likes to be involved. I see him everywhere,” says Jeffrey Hodges, Parker’s guidance counselor.
Hodges nominated Parker for the “Students of Promise” award.
Sixteen were handed out across Clovis Unified Wednesday night.
The awards -- which include scholarship money-- are given to students who make no excuses and work tirelessly in their pursuit to improve their situations and gain an education.
Hodges says others can-- and should – learn from Parker’s bravery.
“Don’t let any adversity stand in the way of what you want to do in life,” Hodges says. “I cant’ wait to see what he’s gonna do in the future.”
If Parker has his way, that future will include medicine.
He’s already taking courses at the Center for Advanced Research and Technology—or CART.
He hopes to attend Duke University.
“Through my entire life, I’ve seen medical specialists help get me through my rough times. Now that I have a more understanding of how they did it. I want to fulfill other kids’ dreams, living through hard times, push through cancer and other deadly diseases,” Parker says.