YMCA Live Strong program celebrates young survivor's graduation

Sam Young is used to overcoming challenges. The 6th-grader from Hillsborough County has beat cancer twice

He recently added a third accomplishment to his list: being the first young person to graduate from the YMCA Live Strong program.

He was awarded a certificate Wednesday night and got a hearty pat on the back from his trainer. The round of applause from YMCA staffers and adult graduates was the g on the cake, but the 12-week training program and the disease that got him there were no pieces of cake.

Sam was first diagnosed with a relatively rare form of cancer called Burkitt lymphoma when he was just eight years old. The cancer grows quickly and can be fatal if not treated. He underwent chemotherapy and was hospitalized for more than two months.

“It was very scary, and hard to get through,” Sam told FOX 13.

Eventually, when the cancer finally went into remission, Sam and his family got bad news. The cancer had come back.

His family had a hard time believing that a cancer that rarely came back, for whatever reason, was attacking Sam a second time.

“It took us a while because I think we were all shell shocked,” his mom Sarah said.

Again, he fought, and the cancer retreated.

But because Sam became used to overcoming challenges, he recently added another: graduating from the YMCA's Live Strong program.

When he signed up for the Live Strong program at the Northwest Family YMCA, he didn’t have much endurance. Over the last few months, he has made great progress.

“He has grown amazingly in just 12 weeks,” said his personal trainer, Chris Malette.

Live Strong gives cancer survivors and their families a free 12-week membership. They also provide a personal trainer who works with the survivor twice a week, an hour each time.