Houston man awards medals to young cancer fighters

Thursday, April 20, 2017
Bling for Bravery
Larry DeSpain lifts spirits for young cancer fighters in Houston by giving them medals

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Inside Texas Children's Hospital, there's a special delivery on the way up to the ninth floor.

"They're thrilled that an athlete would give up their medal," Larry DeSpain says, as he pushes a kart.

On the kart is a treasure box full of running medals, all of them donated.

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"I'll receive medals in the mail from all over the United States," DeSpain explains.

The winners of the medals are marathon runners, triathletes, even Iron Men.

Behind every medal is a note. "I typically cannot read the notes because they make me cry," he says.

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The notes are usually stories of strength, determination but sometimes - heartbreak.

In one, these words are written: "My boyfriend passed away from an undiagnosed heart disease."

The story, along with the medal, is presented to some special kids fighting in their own race against cancer.

"They think that every medal is like winning an Olympic event," DeSpain said.

We followed DeSpain on his lap around the ninth floor. We met Victor Armendariz, who was having a tough day when we visited.

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"The pills, the big ones. I don't like those," Armendariz said. "Then when they put new medicines and IV."

Victor is given a Kentucky Derby marathon medal to keep going. A smile emerges on his face.

"It makes me happy," he says.

Just outside his room, we found a brave little girl named Lily.

"It kind of gives hope for all the kids that are here," DeSpain said.

She too is given a medal for her bravery in battling cancer.

You can see their effect: Pure joy.

DeSpain said that reaction is why he keeps coming back, and why he's getting this week's Foti High Five.

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