Zach’s Health
Zach was diagnosed with a rare and advanced form of liver cancer on January 6, 2006. Surgery is impossible for now and the tumor has grown to the size of a small football on his liver. Incredibly, in the summer of 2007, Zach competed in 16 athletic events while being on his sixth type of chemotherapy. His prognosis is unknown, but Zach lives strong each and every day.

Who is Zach DeRidder?

Zach, 23, is from the small town of Lyons, New York. Biking has been his passion since childhood and he has always dreamed of doing a cross-country bike trip. His diagnosis came only a few weeks after returning home from serving a two-year mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. School, work, and relationships were quickly put on hold and Zach began the fight of his life.For most of the time since his diagnosis, Zach has been very weak. For months, he lacked the energy to walk down the street and was taken care of by a visiting nurse. At his lowest point, Zach was in a coma for over a week – he’s obviously come a long way since then. With a phenomenal amount of faith, hope, and courage, Zach has moved along the road to recovery one step at a time.

Zach’s Racing

Zach didn’t start racing so he could raise money for cancer; he just wanted to compete. On April 14, 2007, he did his first event since his diagnosis – a 5K race, in Geneva, NY. Eight weeks later, he had completed four more 5K’s, a duathlon, and a triathlon. When his friends, Michael and Tim, found out Zach was racing again, they were so thrilled and inspired they had to share his story. They set a goal for Zach to do a cross-country bike trip in spring, 2008 they named “ZHOPE Coast to Coast”.

Then on June 1, 2007, they established the Zach DeRidder Foundation to fund Zach’s cross country bike trip, raise money for the Lance Armstrong Foundation, and share Zach’s story.During the summer of 2007, Zach finished an unbelievable 16 athletic events while undergoing treatment for liver cancer.  Michael followed Zach across New York State filming him at various triathlons, working the crowds, and tried raise the $5000 or so it would cost for the cross-country bike trip.  Zach and his friends raised ~$1000, and it seemed like Zach was invincible.

Cancer Strikes Back

Then in September 2007, Zach was hospitalized unexpectedly, fell into a coma, and almost died.  Despite being rejected for a liver transplant, Zach pushed through and was released from the hospital after about 2 months.  The high ammonia levels in his brain during his coma caused him to lose his memory, and he lost a lot of weight and muscle mass.  The next few months would involve radiation treatments, experimental chemotherapy, and more overnight hospital visits for kidney stones and other complications.

Life in 2008

Out of the hospital in 2008, Zach was off running again – figuratively. Although he was too weak for triathlons, he did a bit of exercise nearly every day.  10 pushups, 25 sit-ups, walking, and biking became routine.  Slowly Zach’s memory improved and Zach set his sights once again on getting a job and saving for college.  He flew to Vegas to visit the people he taught as an LDS Missionary, flew to Florida to visit his grandfather, and attended Camp Good Days.  He even became involved in the Rochester Chapter of “I’m Too Young For This”, a cancer support group for young adults near his home.  Overall, 2008 has been a busy year for Zach and things are looking up.

Finally, in August 2008, an MRI found that Zach’s tumor had shrunk for the first time since it was discovered in Dec. 2005.  Hopefully, it will shrink small enough to be removed in the near future.   Please keep your thoughts and prayers with Zach.

Vote for Zach and Share His Story!

Today, Zach is a finalist in the Lance Armstrong “Dare to Share Your Story” contest.  You and everyone you know should go to Lance’s website and vote for Zach so this amazing cancer survivor can win an autographed bike signed by Lance:

You can vote once per day from Sept 15 to Sept 21 – so make sure you and everyone you know vote everyday this week.  Whether Zach does his cross-country bike trip or not is uncertain.  Right now, his goals are to beat cancer, go to college, get married, and live a “normal” life.  Please feel free to send him a note of support: or join Zach’s facebook group:

We all have challenges to overcome, and Zach shows us how to face difficulties with courage, strength, optimism, and hope.  Thankfully, living strong for us does not mean competing in triathlons with a tumor the size of two small grapefruits on our livers.  But we should each strive to face challenges with prayer, optimism, faith, courage, tenacity, and a big smile.  If you know someone who this story could uplift, pass it on.  Together we can raise awareness about cancer in our society, inspire our friends and loved ones, and win Zach a sweet bike!

-   Michael Hallstrom

T.V. News Interview- June 2007

Zach’s First Triathlon - June 2007

Newspaper Article 


Internet Radio Interview - March 31, 2008

No longer posted on

Magazine Article, Spring 2008

“The Other Face of Cancer, Young Survivors Who’ve Banded Together Share Their Stories” – Rochester Insider

Lance Armstrong’s Dare to Share Your Story Contest

Zach’s Eye of the Tiger Video

Livestrong Challenge Video

Here is the video we made about Zach for the Livestrong Challenge on 

If you’re visiting this site, it’s because you’ve heard about an amazing cancer hero and inspiration named Zach DeRidder.  Please enjoy learning about Zach and his amazing 17 races in 2007 while on chemo, and share this with your friends. 

 If you have an idea how to share Zach’s story with the world by helping us link up with the media or special interest groups like other cancer non-profits, please email me:  I have lots of pictures and video footage I haven’t done anything with yet.

Carpe Diem!

Michael Hallstrom

Zach DeRidder Foundation Co-Founder

Zach finishing his first triathlon - June 3, 2007

Zach finishing his first triathlon

Pittsford, NY June 3, 3007



2007 Events

  • Breast Cancer Awareness Race 5K, Geneva NY

    • Time 33 min
  • Earth Day 5K Race - Pennington, NY- April 21

    • Off-road course with hills
    • Time 33:44
  • Naples 5K Race – Naples, NY - April 28

    • Two large hills
    • Time 30:54
  • Honeoye 5K – Honeoye, NY – May 5

    • Zach finished second in his age group
    • Time 28:35
  • Pond Duathlon – Mendon Pond NY - May 19
    • 2 mile run, 10 mile bike, 1 run
    • Time 1 hr 14 min
  • Pittsford Triathlon, Pittsord NY – June 3

    • 300 yrd swim, 15 mile bike, 5K run
    • Time 1 hr 45 min 19 sec
    • Film footage, pictures
  • Powerbar Trail Race Mendon Pond - June 9
    • 4.5 mile trail race – wooded area, lots of hills
    • Time: 49:05
  • Chittenango 5 mile race – Chittenango, NY June 23

    • Time: 48 min
  • Tinman Triathlon, Tupper Lake, NY – June 30
    • 0.6 mile swim, 20 mile bike, 6.2 mile run
    • Time: 3 hr 10 min 43 sec
    • Film footage, pictures
  • Broome

    County Triathlon,

    Binghamton, NY - July 7

    • .5 mile swim, 12 mile bike, 5K run
    • Time 1 hr 43 min 19 sec
    • Video and pictures
  • Muscle Man Triathlon, Geneva, NY – July 14
    • 500 yrd swim, 15 mile bike, 5K run
    • Time 1hr 42 min 52 sec
    • Pictures
  • Williamson Triathlon, Williamson, NY – Aug 4

    • .4 mile swim, 20 mile bike, 4 mile run
    • Time 2 hr 17 min 7 sec
  • Summer Sizzler, Grand Island, NY – Aug 11

    • 1 mile swim, 21 mile bike, 8.8 K run
    • Time 3 hr 8 min 57 sec
  • Sodus Point Triathlon, Sodus Point, NY – Aug 18
    • Time 1hr 47 min 14 sec
  • Ride for the Roses 100 mile bike ride, Philadelphia, PA - Aug 25-26, 2007

    • Time 7 hours 40 min
    • Sponsored by the Lance Armstrong Foundation
    • Pictures
  • Skaneateles Triathlon, Skaneateles, NY – Sept 1

    • 800m swim, 14 mile bike, 5K run
    • Time – unknown

On Sept 12, 2007 Zach’s liver stuck back with a vengence hospitalizing Zach for 70 days in Rochester, NY. He fell into a comma and lost tons of weight. It looked like would pass away. Loved ones stood by him and prayed for him day and night, and with God’s blessing and skilled medical care, he was home by Thanksgiving. Now Zach’s living at home and taking life day by day. But he still wants to compete.


Please share his amazing story!

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