State College native and former Penn State walk-on punter Brandon Ream died early Monday in Houston after a two-year battle with cancer.
Ream, 29, had been employed as vice president of operations at Camp Woodward, the extreme sports mecca nestled between the hills of East Penns Valley. His father, Gary Ream, founded the action sports and gymnastics camp there.
Neal Hendrix, a professional skateboarder and brand manager for Camp Woodward, confirmed on Twitter that Ream had died.
“Can’t believe how much I learned from someone 11 years younger than me,” Hendrix wrote. “The way Brandon lived was a personal and professional inspiration to me. I loved working with him and loved being able to call him my friend.”
Hendrix told XGames.com that Ream was diagnosed in December 2011 with an an aggressive form of bone marrow cancer called chondroblastic osteosarcoma.
Members of the State College and Penn State communities rallied around Ream as he battled the disease, dubbing themselves “Team Ream.” Many took to Twitter on Tuesday with condolences.
Tim Shaw, a teammate of Ream’s at Penn State who went on to play in the NFL, wrote “broken hearted for the loss of my best friend, brother, teammate, roommate and warrior ...”
Penn State trustee Adam Taliaferro posted “rest easy Brandon Ream ... you inspired us all 2 never give up ...”
Hendrix told XGames.com that Ream became close with the action sports athletes who frequent Camp Woodward, even though Ream himself was more interested in football and basketball in his youth.
Athletes in the action sports world supported Ream, too, with several wearing T-shirts emblazoned with “Team Ream” during competitions the past few years.
Jamie Bestwick, a professional BMX athlete and State College resident, wrote on Instagram, “Today we say goodbye to @brandonream and thank you for being a great teacher in life. You left too soon, but you taught us that life is worth fighting for, and a life hard fought is a life worth celebrating!”
Chad Kagy, another professional BMX athlete, wrote on Twitter “#TeamReam = family.”
Ream graduated from State College Area High School in 2002. A walk-on for Penn State, he punted for the Nittany Lions.
At Penn State he met his wife, Sam, who was a volleyball player.
The couple shared details on Brandon Ream’s personal battle on a blog they started to document his journey fighting the disease.
Ream also shared information on his Twitter account, posting updates on his chemotherapy and inspirational messages.
His last post came in June, a joke about how his hair had grown back and that he had woken up with “bed head” for the first since since 2011.
“Brandon used to say, ‘There are no goodbyes, only see you laters,’ ” Hendrix told XGames.com. “In the last couple years as he fought this, he was the strongest one throughout this entire thing, even as the rest of us were crumbling from the weight of everything he was going through. The fight he put up really inspired and motivated the whole Ream family and the entire Woodward family.”
Matt Carroll can be reached at 231-4631. Follow him on Twitter @Carrollreporter.