READING, Pa. - A Berks County student-athlete has died of cancer.
Berks Catholic junior Anthony Myers died Wednesday afternoon, according to a school official.
"I was shocked. I was sad, heartbroken," Anthony's teammate, Lincoln Lutz explained through tears.
Anthony was first diagnosed with stage-3 cancer in October 2018. The football and hockey star later had to undergo surgery, along with a series of treatments. Even in the midst of struggle, however, his teammates said Anthony never lost hope.
Number 17 returned to the field weeks before surgery to score two touchdowns in the Saint's game against Milton Hershey.
"He became a better person. He knew what was happening, the circumstances," said teammate Owen Wolfe. "He stepped up, became a leader."
Anthony's strength and courage inspired more than just his teammates. His story, along with the hashtag #17strong, became a national movement.
His favorite team, the Philadelphia Eagles, flew Anthony and his family to Atlanta for the Super Bowl earlier this year. He first learned of the surprise while talking about the team on the NFL Network.
Anthony also touched on the moment he first learned he had cancer. In the interview, Anthony said after receiving that call from the doctor, "The only place I wanted to be was football practice. "
Through it all, Anthony's dedication to his teams never wavered.
"He motivated us, made us give extra, go harder every single time," Lutz recalled.
Hours after his death, his former hockey teammates decided to go on with their scheduled game against Wilson in his honor. They started off the game at The Body Zone in Spring Township with a moment of silence.
"We know Anthony," said Brigham Kobularcik, the Saints' hockey team captain. "We know he would want us to play. He always gave 110%."
Taking the field and the ice next year won't be the same for the teammates left behind, but they said in all they do, they'll always keep the memory of Anthony in their hearts. 17 strong will always be their number one Saint.
"I'll remember him as a leader, a fighter," Lutz said. "We just gotta keep playing for him every single day. I know he's watching over us."
The Reading School District said in a Twitter post that grief counselors will be available for students and staff at the high school on Thursday.
"We are saddened by the passing of Anthony Myers," Khalid Mumin, the district's superintendent, said in his own tweet Wednesday night. "This young man and his family fought with valor and strength, while uniting Berks County around a noble cause -- fighting childhood cancer. You will be missed but never forgotten. We are forever #17Strong!"
We are saddened by the passing of Anthony Myers. This young man and his family fought with valor and strength, while uniting Berks County around a noble cause—fighting childhood cancer. You will be missed but never forgotten. We are forever #17Strong! https://t.co/lqO8MGnysL— Dr. Khalid Mumin (@drmuminrsd) December 5, 2019
Family and friends are invited to a visitation on Sunday. More information can be found in his obituary.