Zach’s Army: The abundance of support shown from the community


Beth Marsoun

Pleasant Valley Junior High teachers and students participated in a basketball game to raise money for Zach and his family. They sold Zach’s Army shirts as part of the fundraiser.

Brooklyn Gowan, PV only editor

Zach Maxwell, a current student at Pleasant Valley Junior High, has faced life-altering battles after being diagnosed with aggressive bone cancer this year. Earlier this year, Zach had  his arm amputated up to his shoulder and although the struggles he faces seem unmatched for a 13-year-old, the community’s support helped Maxwell’s journey as he continues to face his hardships. 

PVJH held a fundraiser for Zach earlier this month to raise money for Zach’s costs. Library aid Theresa Needham believes the school has been a pillar of support for Zach during this difficult time. “On April 6, Zach and his family were able to attend an 8th graders vs. PVJH staff fundraiser basketball game held at the Junior High. Team Zach t-shirts were sold as part of the fundraising effort and different colors were worn by the two teams. PVJH students and staff were very generous, raising $4887.80 for Zach. The game was not only fun for everyone to watch, but instilled a sense of community and support for Zach,” she shared. 

Many others in the community have also stepped up to support the Maxwell family through this journey. Zach got the opportunity to talk with the Make-A-Wish foundation as they prepared for a benefit at the YMCA. His wish was to receive an e-bike that would accommodate his needs after the amputation. Three Quad Cities doctors who are on the board at the YMCA came together to fulfill his wish and donated the money for the bike to be made and delivered. Tina Anderson, the founder of Katie’s club, and the Tour de Brew worked with Trek to build the bike, which was then presented at the benefit. 

Many companies in the Quad Cities including Chick-fil-A, Niabi Zoo, the Putnam Museum and many more donated baskets, quilts, and other items to the event. Nico Brownburg created a flier to spread awareness for the benefit free of charge in order to get companies like these involved.  Trudis Tribe, a foundation that supports kids with cancer, also offered to pay for the family to go to Disney. 

Katie Gagner, a family friend of Zach’s, set up a GoFundMe, knowing the financial hardships they would come across with medical bills and the struggles they would face with Zach’s mom not being able to work. She had an initial goal of $10,000 but that was quickly surpassed reaching $150,000 in just over a month. Someone also stepped up to pay 3 months of the family’s rent. 

Gagner shared his story and what the amount of support shown to them has meant. “The community that we have here in the Quad Cities really has given so much. It is one city that comes together when people are in need and does what they can to help show support. I am proud to be a part of this city,” she shared. 

Zach has a surgery coming up to remove spots from his lungs and will be receiving a prosthetic arm. While the road ahead for Zach is still bumpy, he has a whole army behind him to support the rest of his journey.