Zach Lederer jokes he was a little “drugged up” when, in his hospital bed, he lifted his arms in a strongman pose, stared resolutely ahead and allowed himself to be photographed.
After battling childhood cancer, Lederer, an 18-year-old from Ellicott City, wanted anyone who would listen to know he could do it again. On Jan. 25, surgeons at Johns Hopkins had removed a cancerous tumor from his brain, but some of it remained.
Another fight was ahead.
He said he thought, “If I make these muscles and show everyone how strong I am right now, they’ll stop worrying about me and think, ‘Oh he’ll be great.’”
His father posted the picture on Facebook.
Hours later, his cousins Jon Feldman and Joey O’Dwyer lifted their arms in the same pose in a show of strength and solidarity, and posted as well.
“The ‘Tebow’ is no longer ‘in,’" read the caption, referring to the drop-on-one-knee-and-pray pose started by Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow. "Now it’s the Zach Lederer,” read the caption. “Stay strong, big man. We love you!”
And just like that, a viral web sensation was born in support of Lederer, who will soon start undergoing radiation and chemotherapy to treat the cancer he and his family thought he had bested at age 11, the year he had his first brain surgery.
Hundreds, if not more, friends and supporters of Lederer have posed in pictures of themselves on Facebook and Tumblr “Zaching,” the word people use to describe the strongman pose inspired by Zach.