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NC’s Paronish honored for battle with cancer

Courtesy photo Northern Cambria grad Troy Paronish competed in both swimming and golf in his four years for the Colts.

Troy Paronish has his name in the Northern Cambria record books three different times for his efforts in high school swimming.

He’s been part of teams that won Heritage Conference golf titles.

But his most recent accomplishment, winning the Mylan Male Positive Athlete of the Year and the $5,000 scholarship that comes with it, will help him work toward something even greater — something he’s grown accustomed to since he was diagnosed with thyroid cancer as a freshman.

Paronish will attend West Virginia this fall and major in biochemistry with future plans to attend medical school and become a nuclear medicine physician.

“Whatever he ends up doing, he’ll be successful,” said T.J. Mullen, who coached Paronish in both golf and swimming at Northern Cambria. “Whatever he does, he’ll do it for others, and he’ll be very successful when he does it.”

Paronish said that the scholarship, presented virtually by Positive Athlete President and CEO Scott Pederson recently, will help offset some of the costs involved in the pursuit of his dream.

“I’m very honored, because it took a lot of hard work,” Paronish said. “I did a lot to get to where I am, so it makes me feel very accomplished to earn that.”

This isn’t the first time Paronish has been honored by the organization. When he was diagnosed as a freshman, it meant he had to miss swim season due to surgery. It took him away from the pool, somewhere he says takes “all his worries away.”

When the Positive Athlete organization heard Paronish’s story, it reached out and invited him to its ceremony. It was there he came up with the idea for Tee Off with Troy, a golf event to benefit others fighting similar battles.

“When I was a freshman, I also won a $1,000 scholarship for fighting my thyroid cancer, and at the ceremony I heard all these kids talking about putting fundraisers together,” Paronish said. “When I heard that, I wanted to do more for my community, and that gave me the idea to have the golf tournament for Make a Wish.”

The event raised enough money to grant three wishes that provided musical equipment and trips for other Make-A-Wish kids.

“He’s a very unselfish kid,” Mullen said. “He’s selfless, and you can tell, because when I coached him, he had just got diagnosed with cancer, and you wouldn’t have known. He didn’t want other people to be down about what he was going through.”

Paronish overcame his battle with cancer to set the Northern Cambria breaststroke, 200 IM and 400 free relay records during his three-year high school career.

“He’s a very special kid. To overcome what he did and still compete at a high level as an athlete was very rewarding as a coach to see,” Mullen said. “When I coached him in swimming, his goal was to break the breaststroke record. He did that several times, and I knew he was going to do it. He had a great commitment level, and he didn’t let anything hold him back. He worked as hard as he could to achieve his goal.”

Paronish said the camaraderie at Northern Cambria helped mold him into the person he’s become.

“Everyone is so supportive of everyone,” Paronish said. “With our volleyball teams, there’s always a big student section there cheering them on, football games — it’s just a happy atmosphere there.”

Serving his community and helping others came naturally to Paronish after the support he received following his diagnosis.

“My family, all my friends and the teachers were there with me,” Paronish said. “Everyone helped me through it. Anyone else that’s fighting it, I would tell them to just keep going. It gets better.”

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