Camryn Colahan to Receive Cleveland Clinic Sports Medicine Courage Award During 21st Greater Cleveland Sports Awards

Vermillion High School volleyball and basketball student-athlete to receive honors

Media Contact

Jenna Homrock 216.386.9628

Camryn Colahan, a senior at Vermillion High School in Vermillion, Ohio, overcame major medical obstacles to return to playing competitive sports. Colahan will be honored with the Cleveland Clinic Sports Medicine Courage Award during the 21st Greater Cleveland Sports Awards presented by Medical Mutual and Ancora on Thursday, March 4, 2021, aired on WKYC TV 3, wkyc.com and SportsTime Ohio.

As a freshman, Colahan had lettered in varsity volleyball, basketball and track. In 2018, as a sophomore, she was beginning her fourth year on a national level Junior Olympic Volleyball team when Colahan discovered a lump on her inner thigh.

The lump started to cause her some discomfort. Immediately following her sectional championship volleyball match, she was taken to Cleveland Clinic Children’s for testing, including an MRI and biopsy. Colahan, who was 15 years old at the time, was diagnosed with Stage 4 alveolar rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare and aggressive form of soft-tissue cancer.

In the days following her diagnosis, the Colahan family met with doctors at Cleveland Clinic Children’s, who put together a treatment plan that included intensive chemotherapy for 10 months and intensive proton beam radiation therapy.

While she was still able to attend school during treatment, she was not able to participate in any sports because of fatigue and the time commitment for chemotherapy.

By mid-March of 2019, Colahan started to experience second and third-degree burns from the radiation. During the last few weeks of treatment, she needed the assistance of a wheelchair to aide with movement due to her wounds.

“So many of our patients are such incredible fighters, but what makes Cam stand out is that she makes her fight look easy, “said Stacey Zahler, D.O., Cleveland Clinic Children’s pediatric hematologist-oncologist. “She has treated cancer like a match against the toughest volleyball team – with such strength and determination, but yet, simultaneously with such grace and poise. She does not complain. She always has her game face on, and she perseveres.”

She began physical therapy in November 2019 to strengthen her coordination and footwork due to side effects from radiation, including significant skin and muscle damage.

“It was very frustrating during the season because I was not even close to being as good as I was the season before,” says Colahan. “I still managed to go to practice every day and work my hardest to get back. Running was a challenge because of how weak my body had become. To put it in perspective, I only played 30 seconds of our first game and I was exhausted.”

See the video of Colahan’s come-back basketball shot.

 

In January 2021, Colahan’s family shared she had completed her maintenance treatment and her scans continue to show no evidence of disease. Colahan completed nearly two years of chemotherapy.

“As I’ve gone through all of this, I have realized what life is about,” said Colahan. “It’s not about how many followers you have on Instagram, it’s all about how you think of things and knowing that you shouldn’t take anything for granted. Anything can be taken from you at any point. Enjoy every moment you have, and surround yourself with people that you love and make you happy.”

Camryn Colahan (Courtesy: Morgan DiFucci Photography LLC )

Colahan lives with Brett and Aimee, her parents, and her three siblings. She is on the varsity volleyball and basketball teams. Colahan recently committed to play on the women’s volleyball team at Wittenberg University and plans to study psychology.

The Cleveland Clinic Sports Medicine Courage Award is given to an athlete who displays courage beyond the boundaries of their playing field, in order to inspire those around them.

Greater Cleveland Sports Awards is the premier annual sports fundraiser supporting Greater Cleveland Sports Commission. This year’s show will not only feature the traditional celebration of athletic achievements, but also themes of humanity, courage and community focus throughout the show.

Packages and tickets are available for purchase at clevelandsportsawards.com.

Recipients of the Courage Award presented by Cleveland Clinic Sports Medicine have included:

2020 – Camryn Colahan, Vermillion, Volleyball and Basketball

2019 – Skylar Scarnecchia, Champion Township, Basketball, Soccer, Track & Field and Volleyball

2018 – Sophia Pecjak, Mentor, Soccer and Basketball

2017 – Samer Babi, North Olmsted, Football

2016 – Kendra Seitz, Hudson, Competitive Swimming

2015 – Colin Teets, Westlake, Hockey

2014 – Nick Lenyo, Huron, Football

2013 – Courteney Belmonte, Westlake, Competitive Cheerleading

2012 – Molly Miller, Notre Dame Academy, Soccer

2011 – Brandee Kelly, Cleveland State University, Basketball

2010 – Olivia Warhop, Hathaway Brown School, Swimming and Soccer

2009 – Gyasi Cooper, St. Ignatius High School, Track & Field

2008 – Eric Anderson, Jr., Gilmour Academy, Basketball

Media Contacts:

Greater Cleveland Sports Commission: Meredith Painter, mpainter@clevelandsports.org, (216) 496-3863
Cleveland Clinic: Jenna Homrock, homrocj2@ccf.org, (216) 386-9628

About Cleveland Clinic: Cleveland Clinic is a nonprofit multispecialty academic medical center that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education. Located in Cleveland, Ohio, it was founded in 1921 by four renowned physicians with a vision of providing outstanding patient care based upon the principles of cooperation, compassion and innovation. Cleveland Clinic has pioneered many medical breakthroughs, including coronary artery bypass surgery and the first face transplant in the United States. U.S. News & World Report consistently names Cleveland Clinic as one of the nation’s best hospitals in its annual “America’s Best Hospitals” survey. Among Cleveland Clinic’s 67,554 employees worldwide are more than 4,520 salaried physicians and researchers, and 17,000 registered nurses and advanced practice providers, representing 140 medical specialties and subspecialties. Cleveland Clinic is a 6,026-bed health system that includes a 165-acre main campus near downtown Cleveland, 19 hospitals, more than 220 outpatient facilities, and locations in southeast Florida; Las Vegas, Nevada; Toronto, Canada; Abu Dhabi, UAE; and London, England. In 2019, there were 9.8 million total outpatient visits, 309,000 hospital admissions and observations, and 255,000 surgical cases throughout Cleveland Clinic’s health system. Patients came for treatment from every state and 185 countries. Visit us at clevelandclinic.org. Follow us at twitter.com/CCforMedia and twitter.com/ClevelandClinic. News and resources available at newsroom.clevelandclinic.org.

About Greater Cleveland Sports Commission: Since 2000, Greater Cleveland Sports Commission (GCSC) is responsible for attracting over 215 sporting events which provide more than $843 million in economic activity to Northeast Ohio. GCSC serves to measurably improve the economy of Greater Cleveland and enrich the community by attracting, creating, managing and enhancing significant sporting and competitive events. For more information, visit clevelandsports.org.