Mass Zaching photo taken on Francis Quadrangle

This year, MU sophomore Zach Newman teamed up with MizzouThon to organize the event.
Students from MU and various high schools gather for a mass "Zaching" photo Wednesday, April 8, 2015, on the Francis Quadrangle in Columbia, Mo. "Zaching" was made popular by Zachary Lederer, of Maryland, who died in 2014 to a brain tumor. Courtesy of Tanzi Propst

One small gesture can send a powerful message. Students gathered on the MU Francis Quadrangle on Wednesday to flex their muscles — also known as “Zaching”— against cancer.

Zaching was started in 2012 by Zach Lederer, a native of Maryland, who underwent brain surgery to remove a tumor that had recurred from his childhood. His dad took a picture of him flexing his muscles in bed post-surgery to show his family members how, despite his cancer, he was still strong.

This is how the act of Zaching came to be. Lederer passed away in March of 2014, but high school friend Zack Newman, a sophomore at MU, has made himself responsible for carrying on Lederer’s legacy, and his name.

On the day the Zaching photo was to be taken on the Quad, Lederer’s dad sent a message to Newman Wednesday morning regarding the event.

“Hey, you know whatever happens, just know that Zach is proud of you, and Zach is looking down on you and we are really appreciative of your efforts,” Lederer’s dad told Newman.

The act of Zaching and taking photos has been occurring for a few years now, however it was brought to MU just last year.

About 60 people showed up for the photo Wednesday to the flex their muscles.

“Don’t worry about the number, but just the fact that you are doing that, it means a lot to me and the family, and Zach Lederer really appreciates it,” Lederer’s dad said.

MU students, as well as students who were visiting from various high schools, came out to “Zach.”

“I decided to come out today because I thought cancer was a good cause to support,” sophomore Jessica Edgar said.

Last year, Newman organized the Zaching photo on his own. This year, he reached out to MizzouThon to help him plan and get the word out.

“MizzouThon made it 110 times easier by helping me with designing it, designing logos and spreading (the word),” he said. “MizzouThon has been unbelievably helpful getting this all done.”

During the hours leading up to the event, it began pouring rain. Out of fear that no one would show up, there was talk of possibly postponing the photo. But the radar forecast clear skies, and Newman said he made the decision to not postpone the event at around 12:30 p.m., 15 minutes before it was supposed to start.

“I just kind of picked a date and hoped it would work out and it cleared out just in time,” Newman said.

He said he was thankful it wasn’t thunderstorming during the shoot.

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