Hometown Hero puts heart and soul into cancer research fundraisers

LIBERTY, Ohio (WYTV) – James Zimbardi, now a senior at Liberty High School, has been involved in multiple events to help raise money for cancer research since he was 12 years old.

James’ family lost a close friend, Denny Braun, to cancer.

“People that you know that have lost somebody to it and I’ve lost somebody, too. So it just gives you more motivation to raise money to try and find a cure,” James said.

He’s done five 24-hour Relay for Life walks for the American Cancer Society, raising money through bake sales at school.

“I got my friends involved and they walk with me now, so it’s just like a big thing now.”

At his first Relay for Life walk, James thought he might have bitten off more than he could chew.

“I don’t know, the first time I started off way too fast. Everybody was telling me to slow down. You know, I was speed walking.”

After doing the event for the past five years, he’s become a pro.

“I almost didn’t finish the first year. It was hard but then the second effort, you keep going. You get the time and pace and you know what to do,” James said.

His mother, Maria, is so proud.

“He’s also instilled in his younger brother and sister, that his younger brother walked for the first time and his sister is about to walk at age 9. So it’s something near and dear to our family,” she said.

James will walk in his sixth 24-hour Relay for Life in June and doesn’t plan on slowing down anytime soon.

“I’ll probably do it until, you know, my legs fall off or something!”

He’s also participated in two polar plunges, taking a dip in Lake Milton when it’s freezing cold.