Authors share story of young girl’s brave battle

Jerry Brewer never intended to delve so deeply into the story of Gloria Strauss.

Jerry Brewer never intended to delve so deeply into the story of Gloria Strauss.

The Seattle Times sports columnist thought it was going to be a one-time piece — then, as he’d done so many times before, he’d move on to his next story.

“I thought I was just going to do a story about a basketball coach on a hot streak, whose wife has (Multiple sclerosis), and whose daughter has cancer,” Brewer said.

Was he ever wrong.

The story of Gloria, the daughter of then Kennedy High School boys basketball coach Doug Strauss, became so much more. Brewer transformed the feature into a 14-part series about Gloria’s battle with the deadly childhood cancer, Neuroblastoma.

He followed the family’s daily trials and tribulations. He witnessed a deep faith — unlike any he’d seen before. He observed the struggles involved with raising six other children, while trying to work. He was with the family virtually every day from May 2007, up until 11-year-old Gloria lost an almost five-year battle in September 2007.

“It was literally almost an every day thing for six months,” Brewer said. “As a reporter that’s something I’ve never really experienced before. It was like ‘Wow, how do I handle this, how do I handle my own emotions and still tell the story as a journalist?’ It was a pretty incredible challenge.”

The series earned rave reviews, drawing attention from all over the country, and the world.

But Brewer and the Strauss’s didn’t want the memory or the message of Gloria to end there. At the request of the family, Brewer started writing a book a year-and-a-half ago.

“For me it’s the one story will stick with me for my entire life,” he said. “We’re so used to just moving on from story to story. This one’s always going to stay with me.”

The 240-page “Gloria’s Miracle” was released in September of this year. Since then, Brewer and Doug Strauss started touring the region, spreading the importance of faith, and creating an awareness of Neuroblastoma.

“We share a lot of Gloria and who she is, and where she is now,” Strauss said.

The duo made their first appearance on the Eastside this Wednesday, speaking to the student body at Eastside Catholic High School. They will return to the Sammamish Plateau, Tuesday, Nov. 24 for a book signing, and a question-and-answer session. A pre-signing period will begin at 5:30 p.m., followed by a talk at 6 p.m. More signings will follow the presentation.

“It’s not just an Eastside Catholic event, hopefully it’s an Eastside event, or even a Seattle event,” ECHS boys basketball coach Steve Kramer said. “If people want to drive to it, it’s open to them.”

Brewer said over half of the proceeds from “Gloria’s Miracle” go to the Strauss family, and another part goes to their non-profit organization, Gloria’s Angels. Strauss, who resigned from his coaching position and job as a Spanish teacher at Kennedy after Gloria’s death, started the foundation which supports families in need.

“Our mission is lifting burdens of families of going through life-threatening illnesses,” he said, noting Gloria’s Angels create teams of people to support things like laundry, meals and transportation.

Brewer and Strauss, who have become great friends, plan on continuing to spread the courageous tale of Gloria.

Brewer said he’s learned so much from the family.

He hopes by speaking to others, they can take in a similar message.

“Tough times don’t last, tough people do,” he said.