PORT ALLEN, LA (WAFB) - Middle school assistant football coach Robert Landry is fighting for his life. His most recent surgery showed he can add pancreatic cancer to his lung cancer list of enemies, but there's still an unsinkable feeling when you talk with him.
His wife Theresa says he's positive and ready to fight.
9News chose Landry for a Hand It On visit because his middle school team felt he's been such a role model through this adversity and a symbol of courage.
His team honored him recently in a half-time ceremony in which all cancers were highlighted. Landry said the young team members came to him and peppered him with questions as he sat on a golf cart for better mobility. It made him feel wanted,
"Many, many of those players came up and talked to me. They wanted to know how soon am I coming back. When I would be back, When I could come to practice. When I was going to be on the sideline again. So they are really looking foward to me comin' back."
Holy Family School in Port Allen has had football long enough for Coach Robert's adult sons to have played when they were students there. His son Bart has organized the printing of sport bracelets and t-shirts that read Fight Like a Bear (the Holy Family School mascot).
Coach Landry says his team members mobilized when they first heard why he had been missing practices. Two of the kids who lived in Addis started fundraising.
"He blocked the street in his subdivision," Landry said. "And as people came home from work, he was stoppin' em and saying 'Wait, you can't pass, we're collecting money for our coach who has cancer. Would you like to donate?' And I got the money from him last week and we've started paying for prescription drugs. I mean some of the things I need already, I'm startin' to pay for it. " Landry's face lights up with a broad smile.
The team designed a bear paw patch with Robert Landry's initials on it for their helmets. Landry showed Donna Britt the helmet signed by every team member encased in glass on his fireplace mantle. The team one day jogged from Rivault Park, which is about a mile from the Landry home. As they approaced each player, one by one took a knee in the front yard. From that gathering, Coach Landry could see everyone from a chair his sons placed in the doorway of his front porch. The team and their coach said the Lord's prayer and offered Landry and his struggle up for God's blessing.
Donna Britt said someone inspired by his story nominated Landry for our Hand It On. She said "The love witnessed here was so moving. I almost forgot about the money!"
She excitedly pulls three one-hundred dollar bills out of an Altoids mint tin. She said, "I put the money in a mint box....cool cash, smells like mint."
When she presented the money, she said "This is because you are such a wonderful role model to young children. This may not get you much in your treatment, but when a child's money collection on a street can buy your prescriptions, I'm sure you'll find something to do with it."
Tuesday Landry's wife sent a note to say Coach had used the $300 to buy "Fight Like a Bear" t-shirts for 5th through 8th grade football players. He fully intends to return to those sidelines as soon as possible.