Luke Blanock, a Pennsylvania high school athlete who inspired his Western Pennsylvania community and beyond with his courageous fight against cancer, died Sunday. He was 19.
Blanock, a basketball and baseball player from Canon-McMilllan High in Canonsburg, was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma in December 2013. His diagnosis led to an outpouring of support and the hashtag #LukeStrong.
A year later, Blanock was back on the basketball court, remaining strong and undaunted.
In March 2015, doctors discovered a tumor in his left leg, but he went back to the mound during a baseball tournament in South Carolina and pitched and appeared in four games.
By November, doctors feared the worst. Blanock proposed to his girlfriend, Natalie Britvich, and the two were married in a ceremony in February through donations from the community. There was not a dry eye in the house.
They honeymooned, with their parents, in Florida and met members of the Pittsburgh Pirates during spring training.
Blanock walked in graduation ceremonies and received his diploma.
“He was the absolute best, a warrior from the onset,” Canon-McMillian baseball coach Frank Zebrasky told the News-Observer. “He looked at things right in the eye and attacked them. That’s what he’s done. He took this as another battle.”
An outpouring of support on social media followed his death.