COQUILLE — Grant Crim doesn’t look like someone who has battled cancer for 15 of his 17 years. Tall and imposing, Crim can rock the cool, shade-wearing bad boy look or exude the cuddly softness of a teddy bear.
Those who know him would say he is both.
Crim was first diagnosed with an astrocytoma brain tumor in 1997 at 22 months old. He has survived two recurrences, endured multiple surgeries, years of chemotherapy and ultimately the loss of most of his vision.
Even so, he volunteers his time, offering hope to other patients and their families, and works toward the American Cancer Society’s goal of ending cancer.
For his efforts, Crim has been named a “Hero of Hope” by The American Cancer Society’s Great-West Division. He is one of 14 cancer survivors who were chosen from the Great West states of Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho and other states. He’s one of the youngest ever to be chosen.
“I honestly didn’t think in a million years I would get it,” he said. “I wanted to win it, but I know there’s a million people out there who have better stories than mine and are doing more.”
Behind Crim is a diminutive driving force: His mother, Becky Crim. They, along with dad Michael and other family members and friends, have participated in Coos County Relays almost yearly since Grant was 2. This year he is serving as team development chairman.
In conjunction with the Relay For Life of South Coos County, the Crims are organizing the first-ever Spirit of Hope Car and Motorcycle Show, which will be held from noon-5 p.m. Saturday, June 29, at the Coquille High School track before the relay. It will feature the 1966 Batmobile, the Back to the Future DeLorean Time Machine and the Star Wars Z-Wing Carfighter with an R2-D2 unit.
Crim has a personal goal of raising $10,000 for this year’s relay. He’s already raised a third of that.
Through his battle with cancer, Crim has met other young fighters, including Natalie Hill of Coos Bay, Brooklin Butts of Bandon and Frannie Helland of North Bend.
At Christmas, he felt inspired to buy gifts for children who were receiving infusion treatment at Bay Area Hospital. The children there at the time were Brooklin and Frannie, both under 5 and battling leukemia.
“They started calling me Santa Grant,” he recalled.
Crim was surprised last week with a call from Coquille High School, where he was named Citizen of the Year, matching the honor he received from the Coquille Chamber of Commerce in January. He was guest of honor in the Coquille Gay ’90s parade.
Like Natalie Hill, Grant has a “life list.” This year, though he will be on medication the rest of his life, he’s been feeling well enough to scratch off a few of those items. One item was prom, which he attended with Natalie Hill and Samantha Ring. Riding a horse was another.
Becky Crim is amazed by young people such as her son and Natalie Hill.
“He walks the walk,” she said. “He doesn’t just go ask other people for money, he’s willing to earn it himself too. These kids, I don’t understand how they can have that kind of dedication. I know personally I’d be wrapped up in a blanket on the couch.”
Her son’s reply?
“What good does it do to sit at home and mope? Hope inspires me. I feel that one day, someone will raise that one dollar that will find a cure and so my goal is to find that one dollar.”