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Perryopolis teen — a two-time cancer survivor — gives back

Joshua Potter, 18, son of Greg and Cheryl Potter of Perryopolis, sits among the 28 cases of toys and craft items he collected for patients at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh. Potter, who has battled cancer twice in his short life, chose the Eagle Scout project to give back to the hospital that treated him. The member of Boy Scouts of America Troop 625 earned his Eagle Scout award on Oct. 13. Submitted

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Saturday, Nov. 3, 2012, 2:01 a.m.

When a Perryopolis teen conducted a toy drive this summer for Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, it was more than an Eagle Scout project to him — it was a chance to give back.

“I am a 2-time cancer survivor so I know what it's like to be stuck in a hospital and I wanted to give back to Children's Hospital for as much as they gave to me,” said 18-year-old Joshua Potter, son of Greg and Cheryl Potter.

When Potter was 9 years old, he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's Burkitt's lymphoma.

After receiving treatment and being cancer-free for several years, at age 16 he was stricken a second time when he was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma.

Potter was happy to report that, after again receiving treatment from doctors at Children's Hospital, he has been in remission for a year and 6 months.

“I was proud of him for choosing this project because Children's Hospital has given so much to him and it was good for him to give back to them this way,” his mother Cheryl Potter said. “It also was a very useful project that helped a lot of people.”

Last July the teen stood outside the Wal-Mart in Belle Vernon passing out flyers to customers as they entered.

“The flyer had a list of recommended toys and crafts. People went in, bought the items on the list and came out and gave them to me,” he said. “I collected about $10,000 worth or 28 cases of items. It was a lot of stuff. We had to take three pickup truckloads down to the hospital.”

As a result of his hard work on the project as well as earning a total of 32 badges over the years with Boy Scouts of America Troop 625, Potter received his Eagle Scout award on Oct. 13.

“I'm very proud of him,” Cheryl Potter said. “He has worked very hard over the years to achieve this.”

Troop 625 Scoutmaster Brain Evans said this was the perfect project for Potter and he was honored to be able to go with him to collect and deliver the toys.

“I think it's incredible what he has overcome and he never gave up,” Evans said. “To see all he has achieved, both personally and in the Scouts, it's very inspirational to people who have cancer. He is definitely a role model for a lot of kids.”

Linda Harkcom is a freelance writer.

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