You May Want to Read This in Private

It isn’t often I open an email first thing in the morning then spend 20 minutes bawling like a baby… but it has happened just now.

Our POV family’s reader and commenter, Bob Landel (Old Pitt Grad), sent me an email and video about his  grandson, Ben Landel, who is 17 years old and battling cancer. Ben Landel is a high school track & field and soccer athlete from New Jersey and is toughening it out in a as-serious-as-it-gets battle for his health and future.

I don’t think I’m breaking a confidence in sharing Old Pitt Grad’s email to me with you all, even if so I want you to know how Old Pitt Grad feels. As a side note Mike Gallagher is James Conner’s surrogate father and helped raise James from childhood up in Erie, PA. .

I have had many conversations with Mike about his relationship with Conner, which led to some nice conversations with James himself, and I am just blown away by the long-term dedication that man had for a youngster who wasn’t even his kin.

Here’s that email:

A fellow named Mike Gallagher made this video at MetLife Stadium Friday evening.  I believe he is a close friend of the Conner family in Erie.  Obviously a big fan of James Conner, PITT and the Steelers.

This video is about my grandson and his fight against cancer.  By the way, Ben- my grandson, has had Brown, Yale, Navy, most importantly PITT, and a group of 15 smaller schools  interested in him for track as a Junior in high school.  He also played on the undefeated NJ State Championship soccer team last fall; # 11 nationally.

Pray for him.


What struck me, beyond the two principal subjects in Ben and James, is Ben’s strong support system he has surrounding him.  Obviously his family, but that’s not all.

It is easy, as a guy, to be impressed with Ben’s girlfriend – the strikingly attractive tall blonde by his side at all times – but as a Man I have to say she gets my utmost respect for sticking with a young man who just may not be in her future. A lot of boyfriends or girlfriends would have cut and run – she is sticking it out.

That my friends is a definition of young love that stands apart.

So watch the video, see what true strength and compassion is and how powerful it can be when passed on from one man to another… and how a 22-year-old and a 17-year-old can remind us what life is really all about.

I do not pray often; I believe in faith and good actions as the path for my life. But Bob, I’ll take a moment and send a prayer out for you, your family and especially for Ben right now.

Thank you for sharing this with me and to our POV family – thank you for reading it.