Pitt’s Conner helps raise money for cancer research |

Pitt’s Conner helps raise money for cancer research

Jerry DiPaola

Less than one month after he was declared cancer free, Pitt running back James Conner took a break from his preparations for the upcoming season to help raise $400,000 for cancer research.

Conner was honored at a dinner hosted by his oncologist, Dr. Stanley Marks, on Friday night at the Field Club in Fox Chapel.

Not only was Conner honored with the award, which is given annually for the past 30 years to a cancer patient, it was re-named the James Conner Courage Award, Marks said.

“James is the first recipient,” Marks said.

Conner showed a video and spoke to an audience of more than 300 people about his six-month battle with Hodgkin lymphoma. Included was Marks’ phone call to Conner in which he reported he was cancer-free.

“He was phenomenal,” Marks said. “Emotions were so high. James really got choked up.”

Marks said Conner is regaining much of the strength he lost during his 12 chemotherapy treatments.

“He’s been working out like an animal,” Marks said, noting Conner also is watching his diet. “He hardly ate anything at the dinner. His arms are just enormous, rock solid. He has really put on so much muscle since he started working out (after being declared cancer-free last month).”

Marks said most of the money raised will stay within the local region, with much of it going toward his Endowed Research Fund that supports the University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute.

Jerry DiPaola is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at [email protected] or via Twitter @JDiPaola_Trib.

James Knox | Tribune-Review
Pitt running back James Conner discusses his cancer-free diagnosis Tuesday May 24, 2016 during a news conference at the Duquesne Club downtown.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Pitt running back James Conner goes through drills during the first day of spring practice Tuesday, March 15, 2016, at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.
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