Grandson's Love Drives Colon Cancer Awareness Team
Gibbons Middle School seventh-grader Alex Sternburg leads Team Green Machine.
A T-shirt designed by Gibbons Middle School seventh-grader Alex Sternburg features a truck.
"The truck," says Bill Green, Sternburg's grandfather, "is a big, strong vehicle that can overcome any obstacles."
Green's battle with colon cancer over more than a year inspired his grandson to design the shirts -- for a team Sternburg formed for the Boston Get Your Rear In Gear 5K Run/Walk on Saturday, Oct. 13 at Boston's Fort Independence/Castle Island.
The Green Machine has about 15 members, Sternburg said Monday night. Green predicts the team growing to "at least 20 to 25 when the race begins."
As of Monday night, Sternburg's team had raised $1,611 -- eclipsing its goal of $1,000, according to the team page. On Sept. 28, Pizzeria Uno will donate 20 percent of customers' checks to the effort.
Sternburg said Monday the team will become a family tradition. And he hopes to inspire other kids.
"I know that if kids watch this, they'll learn to support one of the leading causes of death," he said.
"Maybe one of their family members might get diagnosed. They'll know more about it before it happens."
Green said he and his grandson are "best buddies."
If Sternburg is playing soccer, baseball or basketball, he sees his grandfather rooting him on.
"His second house is my house," the Framingham resident said. "We spend a lot of time together."
Last year, Green began feeling ill with constipation and bloating.
Tests revealed he had colon cancer.
"It was like getting hit with a brick," Green recalled.
"The ironic thing was, colon cancer is one of the most preventable, if caught early enough. In my case, it wasn't.
"In my case, it could've been hereditary. I have some family history of it."
Sternburg said hearing the news "was sad, because it was right near my birthday." He turned 11. This was July 2011.
This July, Green finished his treatment around his grandson's birthday.
"That was the only birthday present he wanted: for me to be around for his next birthday, to be there for 12."
Sternburg said that during his grandfather's "last round of treatment, I counted every week down until he was better."
Sternburg said he began making the team shirts Monday.
"It has a truck on it, and it says, 'Green Machine: Putting the Pedal to the Metal,'" he said.
"It's humbling," Green said. "I'm very proud of him for stepping up."
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