“Cancer is a disease that doesn’t discriminate. It affects everyone. We’re all touched by it. Vada never smoked; he was never around smoke. He was so fit. But nobody deserves disease. It’s a life – it doesn’t matter. We’re always looking for a reason to justify the things that happen to people, but when someone like Vada who seemed so invincible goes down, it makes you think a little bit.”
Vada Murray was an athlete all his life. He grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, playing every sport he could. After graduating from Cincinnati Moeller High School, he went on to play defensive back under Bo Shembechler for the University of Michigan from 1986-1990 and went to three Rose Bowls during his time at Michigan.
Vada turned down an opportunity to play in the NFL, choosing instead to dedicate his life to public service by becoming a police officer for the city of Ann Arbor Police Department. He proudly served the city and the citizens of the Ann Arbor community for 21 years.
Vada married his wife Sarah in 2001 and together they had two beautiful and talented daughters. They enjoyed a rigorous health and fitness regimen.
Late in 2008, Vada was unexpectantly diagnosed with advanced stage lung cancer at the age of 41. Neither Vada, nor his parents, ever smoked. He endured months of chemotherapy and physical and emotional pain but remained determined to win this battle against this unexpected and unfair opponent.
Tragically, Vada passed away on April 6th, 2011 at the age of 43, leaving behind his wife, Sarah, son Deric (12) and daughters Kendall (8) and Harper (6).
Vada was a man who had a quiet presence. With a physically imposing figure, an intense personality, fierce dedication and loyalty to friends and a tremendous commitment to his family, he was well respected by all those who knew him, especially his partners in law enforcement.
At the time that Vada passed away he was involved in a clinical trial through
Karmanos Cancer Center. The clinical trial was a source of hope for Vada. He believed that with more research, better treatment options would be available with better outcomes and greater hope for cancer prevention and cures, especially for people who lived healthy lifestyles.
Sarah has seen firsthand what cancer can do to someone physically, and the way that cancer can effect a family. In Vada’s honor, Sarah continues the fight. Her fight is for hope. Determined not to be a victim, and to channel her feelings of anger and loss into something productive, Sarah is carrying on Vada’s legacy by matching the intensity and determination that Vada had for life in her efforts to raise money for cancer research.