COLLEGE PARK, Md. (WJZ)–He sparked an international movement with one picture. But WJZ is sad to report that Zach Lederer, a former University of Maryland student, lost his battle with cancer.
Monique Griego has more on how the community is honoring him.
Lederer ‘s story of courage really touched the entire community.
After learning of his death, students quickly turned to social media. Tuesday night, a huge crowd had gathered on campus to honor his memory.
An impromptu candlelight vigil took over the Testudo statue at the University of Maryland College Park. The crowd of more than 100 students gathered to honor the life of Lederer. At just 20 years old, the former student and men’s basketball manager died Tuesday after a battle with brain cancer.
“It’s really sad to hear that he passed away,” said Michael Ehrhardt. “It’s sad. He was part of the Terp family.”
Lederer first made headlines in 2012. The then 18-year-old had just undergone brain surgery when he struck his now famous “Zaching” pose. The photo sparked an international chain of inspiration.
Soon athletes, celebrities and people all over the world were “Zaching” and posting their pictures of support.
“It was pretty cool to see all the athletes and all the student body get together,” said Tyler Adelsberger, student.
Just as “Zaching” was sweeping the Internet, WJZ caught up with him. Despite being through so much, he remained positive and hopeful.
“I feel great. Physically, I feel 100 percent. Emotionally, I feel better than I have ever felt in my life. I keep telling people this really puts everything in perspective,” Lederer said.
The vigil held at campus was only the beginning of the community coming together to honor his life.
Social media exploded with people sharing memories and offering condolences.
Many of them and others that attended the vigil never knew Lederer in life. They were inspired by his strength and courage. It’s a legacy that lives on.
“Obviously, he was a very strong kid. I didn’t know him personally, but what everyone says about him is that he handled it as best as possible and really brought together the school,” Adelsberger said.
Lederer was very close with many of the basketball players. Many of them Tweeted their thoughts as well.
Lederer also fought and beat cancer as a child.
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