Glencoe senior remains 'Nitty Strong' with posthumous scholarship
When Martin Howe's name was called during Glencoe High School's graduation ceremony on Saturday, June 8, the people in Hillsboro Stadium went nuts.
Like any proud parent, Justin Howe sat watching the procession as the crowd clapped and cheered for his son.
"Everyone went crazy," Justin Howe said. "That was really a neat time."
Martin, 18, a senior at Glencoe High School, died April 5 due to complications from lymphoma, only a few weeks before he was due to walk at graduation.
His mother, Joni Howe, a Glencoe graduate herself, walked in his place.
Now, his family is looking to give back to the Glencoe community, Justin Howe said. Martin's family has launched Nitty Strong, a scholarship for Glencoe students interested in journalism — their son's planned career.
Martin Howe was diagnosed last September with Diffuse large B-cell lymphoma, a cancer in the white blood cells which make antibodies. His first dose of chemotherapy was on his 18th birthday, his father said.
Martin Howe's nickname was Nitty — short for "Nitram," his name spelled backward. After his diagnosis, "Nitty Strong" became a rallying cry for him and his supporters.
"It became our mantra," Justin Howe said. "When he was diagnosed he said the word he wanted us to use was 'strong.' That was how he'd face this battle."
"Nitty Strong" became a common hashtag among supporters online and at Glencoe High School, which made T-shirts and stickers to help the student with his fight, Justin Howe said. As graduating seniors entered Hillsboro Stadium on Saturday night, they found #NittyStrong bracelets waiting for them on their seats.
"We gave bracelets to every student," he said.
The Howes promised their son they would continue his legacy after his death, and set up the Nitty Strong scholarship using $2,000 Martin Howe earned last summer working for the Hillsboro Hops.
"School was super important to him," Justin Howe said. "He worked all last summer as a gate attendant. Every dollar he made went into this."
The $2,000 scholarship was awarded to Glencoe senior Gabriel Tsui last week. The scholarship was open to any Glencoe student interested in pursuing a career in journalism. Tsui is planning to attend the University of Oregon next year, Justin Howe said.
"If we can help a kid in the future pay for books or part of their tuition, that's us putting resources from our son into a place where they can be pursuing a career he wanted," Justin Howe said.
Martin was a sportswriter who launched his own sports podcast five months ago. After news of his illness spread to family in Colorado, the senior received a call from NFL quarterback Peyton Manning in April, who invited him to meet the Denver Broncos team before his death.
The family hopes to award the scholarship again next year. He said they'd like to eventually expand the scholarship districtwide.
"We plan to host some fundraisers and maybe a company will offer a matching grant here or there," Justin Howe said. "I'd love for this to grow into a larger scholarship or make it districtwide and have a larger candidate pool."
Martin Howe loved attending sporting events. The family is planning to send some students to local events in their son's honor later this year.
"There are people that could be impacted if we help a little bit," Justin Howe said. "He was always giving like that."
The family has also launched a podcast interviewing cancer survivors and their families,
Martin Howe was able to accept his high school diploma a few weeks early at a special ceremony at his home, Justin Howe said.
"We had a big house party and they presented it to him," Justin Howe said. "It was really neat."
For more information, visit nittystrong.com.
By Geoff Pursinger
Editor, Hillsboro Tribune
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