Zaching is like Tebowing for a cause

How an 18-year-old brain-cancer patient inspired the latest pose meme with a simple gesture of strength and perseverance. 


Chase Hoffberger


Posted on Feb 9, 2012   Updated on Jun 2, 2021, 9:38 pm CDT

Planking was funny. Frosting’s too seasonal. Tebowing is sort of just religious mockery. Bradying is starting to take things too far, and Breading, well, Breading is flat-out ridiculous.

The real meme to get behind is Zaching. The pose was inspired by 18-year-old brain-cancer patient Zach Lederer, a University of Maryland student and the student manager for the school’s basketball team. The craze was founded after his father snapped a photo of the Ellicot City, MD, native in his hospital bed with his arms flexed above his shoulders—a signal of strength in the middle of what’s been a long fight against the disease.

According to the Ellicot City Patch, Lederer said the pose came about because he thought, “If I make these muscles and show everyone how strong I am right now, they’ll stop worrying about me and think, ‘Oh he’ll be great.'”

The photo made it onto Facebook, where it was found by Lederer’s cousins Jon Feldman and Joey O’Dwyer, who emulated the pose and posted the first official statement that Zaching was the new craze to get behind. Attached to the picture was a caption that read “The ‘Tebow’ is no longer ‘in.’ Now it’s the Zach Lederer. Stay strong, big man. We love you.”

On Jan. 28, a friend of Lederer’s who identities himself as RK started a Tumblr page to document all the photographs people have taken of their own Zaching poses. Now 29 pages long and counting, the Tumblr begins with the picture of Lederer in his hospital bed before rolling out O’Dwyer and Feldman’s photo and a series of shots from member’s of Lederer’s community. RK wrote in his opening post:

“The inspiration behind this blog is from something incredible that I have seen the past few days. … Something so incredible that I wanted to share it with people outside the Centennial [High School, which Zach attended] community hoping that it may inspire others too. We all know cancer doesn’t discriminate. We all know cancer doesn’t discriminate. Recently, my friend Zach had found out that he had a brain tumor once again. Ever since he won his first battle against cancer in middle school, everyone believed everything would be okay. No one had expected that Zach would have to go through another battle.

The strong, resilient person he is, Zach didn’t even show a hint of any worries. Knowing Zach, I know he didn’t want us to worry about him because he knew better than anyone else that he was going to win this battle. Just like the last time. Zach: 1 Cancer: 0.”

The Zaching movement is still young, but it’s starting to pick up steam, especially within various athletic communities. Recent entries to the Tumblr page include University of Wisconsin Heisman Trophy finalist Montee Ball, the entire University of Cincinnati Women’s Lacrosse team, New York City’s famed Naked Cowboy (not an athlete, but likely athletic), and University of Maryland Men’s Basketball Coach Mark Turgeon, whose tweet encouraging others to join him in Zaching received 69 retweets. Livestrong CEO Doug Ulman also tweeted a plea, urging the Livestrong community to help raise awareness about Lederer by Zaching.

Yesterday, comedians Adam Carolla and Lisa Lampinelli flexed their muscles for Lederer, giving the campaign its most public contributors yet.

“UNBELIEVABLE!” wrote RK at the top of the post. “Comedians Adam Carolla and Lisa Lampinelli Zaching in the studio of Adam’s Podcast! I had to stop everything I was doing and put this picture up right away! Still can’t believe it!”

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*First Published: Feb 9, 2012, 3:06 pm CST