South Lakes High School senior Carlos Lenz won two awards at the Virginia High School League (VHSL) Film Festival. Lenz was awarded Best Documentary for his film titled Papa Fred. The documentary tells the story of his 73-year-old grandfather, Fred Gedrich, who has run hundreds of miles and now faces maintaining his love for running while undergoing cancer treatment.
“He never lost his passion for running or spirit despite being recently diagnosed with stage IV lymphoma leukemia just a few months earlier,” says Lenz.
Lenz states in his documentary the stages of stage IV Lymphoma Leukemia, including weight loss, bone/chest pain, enlarged liver/spleen, shortness of breath and many more symptoms.
“Papa Fred told me that he’s grateful because cancer has deepened his love and appreciation for his family, friends and pets. His devotion for running proves that not even cancer can stop us from doing the things we love,” said Lenz at the conclusion of his documentary.
Gedrich completed his first race, the D.C. Marathon, in 1982 and over the next three decades participated in many other races and marathons in addition to running daily resulting in a 32-year streak.
“Papa Fred” went into remission in January 2016 and has been able to go on daily runs or jogs daily. Carlos Lenz dedicated his documentary to the spirit of his grandfather and in memory of his youngest son Dough Gedrich.
Lenz also won the top award in the Best Commercial-Public Service Announcement chosen by the Grand Jury for his commercial titled “Be the Difference.” The ad revolves around suicide prevention and the role each person plays in assisting those suffering from depression and suicidal thoughts.
Lenz taught himself the basics of filmmaking and will be studying film at George Mason University next year. He is also a student with a passion for writing as he is a staff writer for the South Lakes “The Sentinel” newspaper as well as Historian as an International Thespian Officer for the South Lakes Theatre Department.
Additional student filmmakers recognized at the VHSL were Shauh Saleih and Sam Sikora of Robinson Secondary School for Audience Choice Documentary for “Ram Pride” and Shank Rai of Annandale High School for Audience Choice Commercial-Public Service Announcement for “McDonald’s All-Day Breakfast.”