ucps logo

Archived Stories for Union County Public Schools

Search by Keyword

Giarla is a Winner On and Off the Field

Parkwood senior Andy Giarla is pleased to receive an autographed cap from NASCAR celebrity Dale Earnhart, Jr. after the Caps for Kids fundraiser.

Imagine waking up one morning as a student on a normal school day, but later finding out news that would turn your world upside down. Well, for Andy Giarla, a Parkwood senior, this was reality.What started off as a regular fourth period class for Giarla later turned into a day that would forever impact his life. He would find out that the mild headaches that had begun to subside in the winter were the result of cancer. On May 23, 2014, doctors told Giarla that they had found a brain tumor the size of a golf ball and confirmed that it was cancerous. “It was awkward finding out that I had a tumor because I was called out of fourth period that day from Coach Coble to talk about expectations for the upcoming football season,” said Giarla.


Ironically, Giarla found out from his father that Coach Coble knew about the tumor before he did. The good news was that the doctor told Giarla they could go in and remove the tumor through surgery and that he would be back at school by the start of the season. The exciting news about returning to the team overshadowed the reality of having the tumor. Two days later, Giarla received a call from his doctor to inform him that the cancer had set in, so rather than having to endure a two month recuperation period, he would have to fight for his life.


Soon after the surgery, Giarla regretfully found out that he probably wouldn’t be able to play football and there was a slim chance that he would make it on the field. He took that information to heart and used those words the doctor had said to fuel his fight through cancer. Despite still battling cancer he was able to dress out for the fourth game of the year versus Jordan-Matthews . “I was glad to get back to my family and make a run for the state title with my boys,” Giarla said.  

This spring, the Parkwood Jewish Culture Club and the Parkwood Boxing Club banded together to hold a fundraiser, Caps for Kids, to help youth who are battling cancer. Students could pay a dollar during the week for the privilege of wearing a hat on Friday. Chris Giudice, English department chair and faculty sponsor of both clubs said, “"The Caps for Kids fundraiser always seemed like a good idea from the start, but it was more about the person and the story behind it. Although Andy is not the type of person to bring attention to himself, I think anyone who embraced the project immediately thought about him and how courageous he really is." Caps for Kids gives cancer patients a hat signed by a famous celebrity. Giarla was pleased and surprised to be given a cap autographed by one of his favorite athletes,  NASCAR superstar Dale Earnhart, Jr.! Although the courageous senior hasn't yet fully beat cancer, with his determination and drive, he will prevail. 

Written by: Victor Thompson, Parkwood student
Edited by Lisa Moniz
Posted: Apr 24, 2015 by Lisa Moniz

Back to list of stories for Union County Public Schools