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Local teenager provides inspiration for others

But, just as he's done in the past, Ian has showed tremendous bravery despite the latest challenge to his health, said his mother.

"It's a lot to deal with after so many years of issues, but he's such a strong kid," said Yando, who noted her son is now undergoing radiation and chemotherapy treatments at Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington.

"He never complains," said Yando. "And, whenever we see other people going through something, he's always more concerned about them. It just amazes me how strong he is."

Susan LeBlanc, Ian's aunt, agreed.

"Ian is someone that I look up to even though he's only 18," said LeBlanc. "He's dealt with illness since he was born and his attitude through it all has been just unbelievable. It's amazing for someone his age to have the positive attitude he has."

As Ian undergoes his treatments, his family is also preparing to walk in the upcoming overnight Relay for Life event slated for Friday, June 17, at the Clinton County Fairgrounds in Morrisonville. Yando said she looks forward to participating in the event this year in Ian's honor, just as she has for the past four years in memory of her father, whom she and LeBlanc lost to prostate and bladder cancer.

"Relay for Life is one of the best things you can do to help others. It's such a good cause," Yando said of the event, which benefits the American Cancer Society. "The thing about it is, sooner or later, everyone knows someone who has been affected by cancer. It's important to be there for them to show you're rooting for them and to show you care."

Joan Sterling, community executive for the American Cancer Society, said participation by families like Ian's is crucial to helping fund cancer research and raise awareness. Sterling also added that even though Relay for Life is only a week away, there's still time to get on board with an event that can do so much for so many.

"It's never too late to pull together a team," said Sterling. "Even if you're not part of a team ... if you're a survivor or just want to show up to show your support, come. We just want you there."

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