Monday, April 26, 2010

PT's Gallagher wins Challis Award

Mike Gallagher, a senior at Peters Township, is the recipient of the John Challis Memorial Award given by the WPIAL Baseball Coaches Association (WBCA). Gallagher will be honored at the WBCA's Awards Banquet on June 11.

Challis graduated from Freedom High School in 2008 and died of cancer two months later and the award goes to an individual who is a current high school student associated with his high school baseball team; has overcome or currently struggling with a physical, mental or significant obstacle; and serves as an inspiration to players and coaches.

Gallagher certainly qualifies.

The brother of Peters Township great Jim Gallagher (named the top local high school athlete of the past 10 years on this blog), Mike Gallagher's route to the Peters Township varsity baseball team was a difficult one.

A designated hitter/outfielder, Gallagher developed a seizure disorder called Complex Partial Seizures. Numerous prescription medications failed.

"It tears your heart out as a parent any time your child deals with a chronic illness. It was something we lived with every day," James Gallagher, Mike's father, said. "We were fortunate that Mike had good care."

After medications failed, the Gallaghers opted for brain surgery after learning Mike was a candidate. On Dec. 13, 2005, Gallagher woke up from a coma and, after being cleared for physical activity, began to train for baseball, which he hadn't played since the age of 10.

With help from Jim, who was playing for Duke University at the time, Mike basically learned how to play baseball all over. Only a few months later, he made the freshman team at Peters Township. He made the varsity roster in 11th grade.

"Because of what I've been through, I appreciate everything very much, " Gallagher said. "Playing baseball is not like a lot of other sports. These guys are going to be life-long friends."

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