According to Gwenn Hendrick, a former Mahwah resident whose son, Frank Chamberlin played football for Mahwah High School, Boston College, and in the NFL for the Tennessee Titans, Cincinnati Bengals and Houston Texans, she didn’t know her son was still inspiring Mahwah athletes.
“I didn’t know this until this past season, when I was at a Mahwah High School game and I went inside the gym. But, they have one of Frank’s jerseys hanging up in the hallway,” Hendrick said. “I was surprised to see that.”
Before her son’s cancer diagnosis last year, Hendrick said she and her family didn’t realize the impact Frank’s success story continues to have on Mahwah athletes.
Chamberlin played football all four years at Mahwah High School, graduated in 1996, and went on to play in college and for five years in the NFL. The family, she said, has deep roots in the township. Hendrick herself went to Mahwah High School, and was a cheerleader for the football team. After his stint in the NFL, Chamberlin and his wife, Lisa - another MHS grad - moved back to Mahwah. The couple and their three young kids recently moved to Wyckoff.
“Frank has always been known for his character, for being a really hard worker and for being a good guy. I guess the football coaches that Frank had in Mahwah are still telling his story to their players as a way to show that hard work and dedication can pay off,” Hendrick said. “I didn’t know that.”
Hendrick and the rest of her family recently found out how much Chamberlin means to Mahwah athletes when the current team decided to help ‘Fight for Frank.’
Last January, Chamberlin, 34, was diagnosed with anaplastic astrocytoma (Grade III Glioma), a severe form of brain cancer. Chamberlin underwent surgery that partially removed the tumor, but was left with ongoing seizures and significant speech impairment.
Frank hasn’t given up. He recently returned from Germany where he started receiving immunotherapy treatments.
“We take it day by day,” Hendrick said of the treatment. “He is fighting every second.”
To help pay for the travel and treatment costs associated with the therapy, friends have formed 'Fight for Frank,’ an online donation page where friends and community members can donate money. The ‘Fight for Frank’ group also hosts fundraising events in and around Mahwah to help raise money for the cause.
In December, at a ‘Fight for Frank’ fundraiser at the Mahwah Bar & Grill, the current MHS football team and coach Jeff Remo walked in unexpectedly with a $1,000 check for the fund.
“We had no idea they were coming,” Hendrick said. “But apparently, when the boys heard about Frank, they decided on their own that they wanted to help.”
“We felt very touched by that,” she added. “The outpouring of support from the entire community has been unreal.”
The MHS donation has gotten ‘Fight for Frank’ closer to its $200,000 goal, but it’s not quite there yet. The group is hosting a dinner and auction fundraiser at the Venetian in Garfield on March 20. Get more information about the event on the ‘Fight for Frank’ website.