Jesus said all things are possible for those who believe.
Despite a grim health outlook, Zachery Carruth put faith in the promise from Mark 9:23 regarding playing football.
At the age of 10, Carruth, now 23, received a diagnosis of osteosarcoma in the foot, a form of cancer. Eight surgeries followed in the next three years, as Carruth had to learn to walk again and endure extensive therapy. Doctors told Carruth, who had been an active child, that he would never be able to play football because of his foot. But that didn’t deter him.
“I shunned God when I was first diagnosed because I didn’t know what He had planned for me and I thought my story was truly coming to an end,” Carruth recalls. “Then God opened my eyes to see what He had in store for me and what work I will do for Him in the future.”
He played in high school as well as at Southeastern University, the Assemblies of God school in Lakeland, Florida. He graduated in 2020 with a degree in kinesiology. He is now an international education and school services teacher at Claxton Middle School in Lakeland, as well as on a high school football coaching staff.
His operations limited his exposure to friends.
“The only thing I had was my family, God, and a will to keep fighting.”
Carruth’s mother, Cherry Ann, 50, remembers her son, soon after learning his diagnosis, expressing the belief that God chose him for such an assignment.
“Zachery has found his inner strength with God’s guidance,” Cherry Ann says. “Zachery is truly an inspiration to so many with love, patience, and understanding.”
Carruth’s sister, Austin Marie, says her brother inspired her to become a spokesperson for CURE Childhood Cancer by raising awareness about childhood cancer through the Miss America organization.
Zachery’s father, Kevin James Carruth, 55, says God used both Zachery and Austin to raise thousands of dollars for Gold-out Games for CURE at Zachery’s high school, Emanuel County Institute.
Mario Bento, Carruth’s coach and counselor at SEU, has witnessed God shaping Carruth’s character to impact those around him.
“I have seen Zach influence others through his servant heart, his humility, and meekness,” he says. “Zach helped to break the football player stereotype. He understood the only one he should model is Jesus.”
Carruth is thankful to be able to play football and be involved in the game as a testimony to God. When it comes to ministry, he believes he can accomplish much as a coach.
“I am given an opportunity every day to pour into young men’s lives and help them become a positive influence,” Carruth says. “This is my way of being a servant to God, by pouring my knowledge and happiness into these young men to transform them into being servants of God.”