Class of 2014: Under the burden of loss, he carried on

SNOHOMISH — At senior recognition night, Josh Sharpe was named Most Inspirational Panther. It’s an honor earned by heartbreak, but also through resilience and courage.

“Josh is fantastic. He never complains. He is friendly and encouraging. That’s who he is,” Jodi Judd said.

Sharpe’s mother died during his sophomore year at Snohomish High School. Judd and her husband moved the teen into their home.

Annie Sharpe had battled multiple myeloma and other cancer for more than a dozen years. She died in 2012. Sharpe, 18, has older siblings, but his mom was a single parent.

Sister Hannah, a high school senior when their mother died, tried to run the household and care for her brother. When those responsibilities weighed too heavily on young shoulders, Jodi and Richard Judd stepped in.

They had known Annie Sharpe through Hope Foursquare Church in Snohomish. They simply took the boy into their Snohomish home, not as a foster child and with no paperwork. Their own children are now 12, 15 and 16.

“They accepted Josh as a brother,’” Jodi Judd said.

“Before I moved in with the Judds, I was failing every class. They helped me pull up every single grade,” Sharpe said.

He suffered another blow during junior year. Through a Nick of Time Foundation heart screening for athletes, it was discovered he has an enlarged aortic valve. He had been a Snohomish High varsity football player, a lineman and defensive end. After being evaluated at the University of Washington Medical Center, he was told not to play contact sports — no football. “That was the worst. Football was my passion,” he said.

Intrepid, he stuck with track. His senior year, he competed in a sprint relay and discus.

“There were times I wanted to just give up. Sophomore year, I thought, ‘No way am I going to graduate,’ ” Sharpe said.

On Monday, the Most Inspiring Panther will graduate. This fall, he’ll start at Central Washington University, where he plans to study exercise science.

“I’d like to say thanks to my mom,” Sharpe said. “She fought hard and was a good parent. She did her best.”

Stories on the Class of 2014

Justin Cho, Jackson: A slow, grueling comeback from sudden illness

Jasmin Edwards, Lynnwood: She excelled in the classroom and on the court

Micaela Powell, Everett: After transplant, she has a new heart and new horizons

Josh and Zach Rodriguez, Arlington: Twins will head down separate paths

Josh Sharpe, Snohomish: Under the burden of loss, he carried on

Santana Shopbell, Tulalip Heritage: She set a goal — and an example for others

Michael Wanner, Kamiak: At West Point, he’ll learn to be a leader

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