January 27, 2011

Wrestlers to Honor Fallen Teammate Adam Frey in Matchup With Iowa St.

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It takes more than pure talent for the Cornell wrestling team to remain near the top of the rankings; it takes a great deal of motivation as well. This weekend, the Red will have no trouble getting amped up for its dual against Iowa State. The Red will be wrestling for its late teammate, Adam Frey.

Adam Frey was a Cornell wrestler and student less than three years ago. Days after competing in the NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships in March 2008, Adam woke up early to stop by McDonalds to get ready for a full day of classes. On a winding country road, he saw a car speeding straight towards him. He sharply veered right and completely lost control, slamming his 11-year old SUV into a tree at over 55 miles per hour.

Miraculously, Adam survived the crash. Despite some intense pain and being shaken up psychologically, he appeared to be on his way to a full recovery — but this story takes an unexpected turn.

A routine CAT scan was taken to check Adam for internal bleeding and brain damage. What they found was something far worse and unexpected. The image revealed three tumors on his lungs, liver and between his kidneys. He had Advanced Stage III testicular cancer that had metastasized.

Most people would be completely overwhelmed if they heard news like this, but Adam Frey was not like most people.

“[Adam] was really outgoing, a bit outlandish and just liked to hang around people,” said senior Mike Grey, a freshman when Frey was on the team.

Senior Justin Kerber agreed with Grey’s description.

“He was a unique guy with a really big personality; he was … a social butterfly,” Kerber said. “He knew everybody and was always going up to different people and introducing himself.”

Just like in his wrestling matches, Frey would not back down; he made sure to stay spirited and jovial, especially in his blog, detailing his horrific struggles with brutal honesty, but with a light touch of humor. His cheerful and outgoing personality didn’t just help himself through chemotherapy; he distracted others in his treatment center from their terrifying ordeals by engaging them in conversations and bringing them hot lunches.

His desire to help those who shared his fight against cancer led him to the creation of the Adam Frey Foundation. Unlike other cancer foundations that focus on providing funds to the research of possible cures for this disease, Adam had a different vision; he wanted to use the money raised to help comfort and provide enjoyment to the actual victims of cancer.

Apart from the obvious medical expenses, there are many other costs that cancer patients must pay. Adam lived in Pittsburgh, but needed to travel to New York City two to three times a week to receive chemotherapy.

“It wasn’t so much the medical costs … but when you’re living in Pittsburgh and you’re being treated at Sloan Kettering in New York City, [there are] amazing expenses of driving back and forth, staying in hotels, parking and food,” said head coach Rob Koll. “There were so many hidden costs … he thought that was sort of a missing component to the healthcare. That’s what the focus of his fund is: to help the families of people diagnosed with cancer.”

The significance of Frey’s life is not lost on the Cornell wrestling team. The Red realizes the enormity of the upcoming dual.

“[All the seniors] on the team … knew him. [This match] means a lot to us,” Grey said. “He started a foundation and wanted to make a difference. We’re carrying out his name [and] his legacy.”

Kerber felt the same, describing the dedication to Adam Frey as the “icing on the cake; extra additional motivation to go out and use the gifts that we’ve been given in remembrance of Adam and doing it well so he would be proud of the effort we put forth.”

This weekend, on Jan. 30, Cornell will wrestle No. 14 Iowa State at 1 p.m. at Newman Arena. Tickets for students are free and for every person who attends, $2 will be donated to the Adam Frey Foundation.

“I really encourage any students to come out to the match if they have the ability to,” Kerber said. “You’ll not only see a great wrestling match, but also help a great cause.”

Original Author: Albert Liao