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Making A Difference: ‘Overachiever’ Helps Kids Affected By Cancer

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Nearly 12 million people in the United States have been diagnosed with cancer. The ugly disease has been the call to action for a junior at the University of Minnesota.

To say Zach Morris is an overachiever would be an understatement. WCCO-TV and US Bank were happy to honor his dedication to Making a Difference.

Morris was quick to tell us, he doesn’t like bragging about himself. Morris is involved in more than a dozen organizations at the U, all while maintaining a 3.7 GPA with a double major in biology and physiology.

Last week, WCCO’s Jason DeRusha surprised Morris with the Making a Difference award during a Camp Kesem Minnesota meeting.

Morris has also helped organize the school’s Relay for Live. It’s the eighth largest relay in the country and has raised more than $220,000 for cancer research at the University of Minnesota.

When asked why he does it, Morris points to one of the influential people in his life.

“Most people talk about who they lost, or who’s currently going through the battle. I always say I relay for my grandma. She doesn’t have cancer, but cancer has had the worst effect on her. She lost her brother, sister and husband to cancer,” Morris said.

That heartache fueled action. Morris is driven by finding a cure in the near future and by making a difference in people’s lives now.

Morris’ newest labor of love is founding Camp Kesem Minnesota, a free summer camp for kids whose parents have or had cancer.

“Cancer is terrible and has all these horrible effects. We’re able to provide something, and they’re able to get something good out of their cancer treatment,” Morris said of the kids who attend the camp. “The families have told us it changes their kid forever. In an email one parent said Camp Kesem is the best thing that cancer ever did for them.”

One thing his family and friends constantly ask isn’t of his time, they ask how he juggles it all.

“I like to stay busy,” Morris laughed.

The chaotic schedule is welcomed by Morris. He says he gets more out of these opportunities than he ever imagined.

“I make some sacrifices, too. I don’t go out every weekend like a bunch of people in college, and I don’t get to go to all the football games. But I wouldn’t trade a football game for doing Making Strides Against Breast Cancer ever. I would rather be volunteering with Camp Kesem or American Cancer Society or anything than sitting on Facebook,” he said.

Because this is Camp Kesem’s first summer in Minnesota, it needs campers. Organizers are hoping to get 40 kids enrolled. It’s open to kids ages 6 through 13 whose parents have or were treated for cancer. For more information, visit minnesota@campkesem.org.

Camp Kesem’s Facebook Page

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