12 Panthers set to honor James Conner at race on Saturday


Jeff Ahearn | Staff Photographer

By Dan Sostek / Sports Editor

Nearly three months after Pitt running back James Conner announced his diagnosis of Hodgkin Lymphoma, a group of his teammates have found a way to honor their star teammate.

The University announced on Thursday that 12 Pitt football players have formed a team for the 16th annual “Race to Anyplace” on Saturday, in which teams work to keep a stationary bike in motion for six hours. The event benefits Pittsburgh’s local chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

The 12 players forming the team, dubbed “#ConnerStrong,” are quarterback Nathan Peterman, linebacker Matt Galambos, running back Qadree Ollison, offensive tackle Jaryd Jones-Smith, fullback George Aston, wide receivers Rafael Araujo-Lopes, Kellen McAlone and Manny Stocker, long snapper Pat Quirin, offensive lineman Tony Pilato, kicker Tristan Cunha and punter Nick Goldsmith.

Doctors diagnosed Conner with Stage 2 Hodgkin Lymphoma in November, and he held a press conference disclosing his diagnosis in December.

According to Codi Fleet, the Sports Campaign Manager for the Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, the campaign is excited to have the team participating, and has followed Conner’s story closely.

“We received hundreds of calls from our board members, donors and volunteers asking if we had heard [about Conner’s diagnosis] and wanting know how they could support,” Fleet said via email. “We quietly reached out to private channels to show our support and let Conner and his family know that we were here for whatever he needed.”

World-record holding Olympian and seven-time USA Cycling national champion Dotsie Bausch will host the event at the East Club in Heinz Field.

Last February, thanks to the contributions of more than 80 teams, the event raised more than $130,000. This year, the event is aiming to raise $150,000.

All proceeds of the event assist the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s goal of curing blood cancers, such as leukemia, lymphoma, myeloma and Hodgkin’s disease, while also attempting to improve the quality of life for patients and their families.

Conner, in response to the news of his team, tweeted, “Love for my brothers!”

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