Three students inspire the campus

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As seen in and provided courtesy of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette West
Thursday, September 06, 2007
By Ken Wunderley, Tri-State Sports & News Service

C.J. Hosbach
Will Forbes
Brandon Lewis

C.J. Hosbach, Will Forbes and Brandon Lewis will not play a down for the Geneva College football team this season, but the trio have already provided a lot of inspiration for their Golden Tornadoes teammates.

All three have spent the offseason dealing with a personal tragedy. Hosbach and Forbes were in separate automobile accidents that almost took their lives, while Lewis is fighting leukemia.

"All three have suffered life-changing experiences, and all three have shown great courage in their fight to recover," said Geneva coach Geno DeMarco. "They've been an inspiration to their teammates and the coaching staff."

Their never-give-up attitudes might have inspired their teammates a bit in Saturday's 20-3 victory against Presidents' Athletic Conference rival Thiel.

Hosbach, a sophomore from Hempfield Area High School, would have challenged to be the starting fullback this year. His season, and possibly his career, came to an end on March 9, when his motorcycle was hit by a car on Route 30 near his home in Jeannette.

"I saw C.J. with his parents in the trauma unit that night, and the doctors were afraid he might not make it," said DeMarco. "You could only imagine the hopeless feeling we had.

"C.J. had extensive damage to one of his legs. When his life was no longer in danger, the doctors told him it might take up to 18 months before he could walk again. I'm glad to say that C.J. has defied the odds. He took his first steps on Aug. 30 and is now walking with a cane."

DeMarco received another emergency phone call six days later. This time it was Forbes, a linebacker from Aliquippa who began his collegiate career at California University of Pennsylvania.

"Will was driving on Route 68 after attending class," said DeMarco. "It was a snowy day and his car hit a tractor trailer head on. He was thrown 30 feet from his car. The doctors had the same prognosis, they were concerned he might not make it."

Forbes sustained internal injuries and extensive damage to one arm.

"We were visiting both at the same time," said DeMarco. "One was in Presby and the other in Mercy. We prayed every day for both and God spared their lives. Neither will be attending school this semester, but our hope is that both will be able to complete their degrees."

Lewis, a sophomore defensive lineman from Norwin High School who has been afflicted with leukemia, had a bone marrow transplant near the end of August.

"Brandon is in remission, and we're praying that it stays that way," said DeMarco. "The transplant went well, but he will be hospitalized for [a couple of weeks]. Brandon also lost both parents to cancer.

"It's amazing the strength he's shown throughout. He will not be able to return to school this year, but he's reading his history and taking Bible lessons."

It's been an offseason that has left an indelible impression on DeMarco.

"When the kids see how C.J., Will and Brandon have faced adversity, it puts everything into perspective," said DeMarco. "Ninety-nine percent of the population has no idea what they've gone through. They are certainly an inspiration."