Ellicott City teen's fight with cancer inspires 'Zaching' craze

Zach Lederer is an inspirational guy. Just ask his many hundreds of friends and admirers, from Ellicott City to Australia, Annapolis to Athens, and many points in between.

Last month, 18-year-old Zach, a graduate of Centennial High School and freshman at the University of Maryland, had brain surgery following a recurrence of the cancer he thought he had beaten seven years ago.

Lying in his hospital bed, still groggy from the operation, he struck a body-builder's pose for the camera in an effort to show worried family and friends that he was OK.

His cousins soon mimicked the pose, posting it on Facebook and writing playfully that such "Zaching" was the new "Tebowing," the praying pose made famous during the pro football season by Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow.

And just like that, a craze was born. A Centennial High classmate created a Tumblr page and Zaching images poured in. Local high school sports teams Zached, dropping their rivalries in pre-game poses. Lawmakers in Annapolis Zached, alerted by Zach's grandmother, state Del. Liz Bobo of Columbia. Athletes Zached at the University of Maryland, where Zach is a manager of the men's basketball team. Professional athletes Zached. Well-known comedians Zached.

"It's big in Greece and Russia," Zach says.

Google "Zaching" and you'll get tens of thousands of hits, with an untold number of images, comments, Internet postings and articles

The wonderful thing about this craze is it is nothing like the self-aggrandizing stunts that such social media sensations often are. It is, and has been from the start, an earnest, honest but also playful and joyous show of courage in the face of adversity. It is an inspiring effort to assure people they don't need to worry about Zach Lederer, he's going to fight through this period. And by extension, it lets others in similar circumstances know they can keep up the fight as well.

"There's no sense of, "Oh, poor Zach,' " Bobo told this newspaper. "It's just fascinating to watch that from the position of an 18-year-old with a recurring malignant brain tumor, he is actually spreading joy in the community and the world."

Exactly. Keep on Zaching, world. Especially you, Zach.

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