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Gaige Robbins loses fight with cancer

Melbourne man had legion of fans

Gaige Robbins.
Gaige Robbins.

MELBOURNE, Fla. – Gaige Robbins, the 19-year-old Melbourne man who, during his fight against non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, earned a legion of fans and a surprise visit with Adam Sandler, died Monday in Texas.

A notice was posted after 3 p.m. Monday on the Support Gaige Robbins Facebook fan page: "Tifnie Posting, Shane asked for me to post. With a heavy heart, I'm informing ALL the supporters that Gaige has just lost his battle. He passed away today at 1:56 p.m. (Texas time). We ask that you all continue to keep TEAM ROBBINS in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. It's because of YOU his parents were able to be in Texas with him and we can't thank YOU enough for that. Gaige is still our hero and INSPIRED so many throughout his battle. Gaige is now pain-free, laughing and dancing above us. We LOVE you Gaige!"

Local 6 News partner Florida Today reported that the Eau Gallie High grad lost his battle with cancer less than two years after he was diagnosed. Since October 2014, he went through nine chemotherapy treatments and more than 20 rounds of radiation. But throughout his ordeal, he kept a positive attitude and flashed his trademark grin. He told his family he would beat cancer, and he would do so laughing along the way.

"I just love to laugh," Gaige told Florida Today in June. "It's such a simple thing, and a lot of people overlook it. I'm surrounded by people who make me laugh and make me happy, so why not share that with them since they're sharing it with me?"

His story touched thousands, and thanks to social media, it reached someone very special to Gaige: actor Adam Sandler.

Earlier this summer, Julie Johnson of Orlando and 11-year-old Maddie Field of Melbourne posted a video on Facebook, asking for any leads to help Gaige meet the "Mr. Deeds" actor. The video, which had close to 42,000 views, got the attention of someone who works for Sandler's production company.

Sandler then personally called Gaige in July and invited him and his family to visit him on set in Georgia. He posed for pictures with the actor and co-stars David Spade and Nick Swardson.

"This guy spent six hours with us today on set and treated Gaige like he was a star," Gaige's dad, Shane Robbins, told FLORIDA TODAY via text message in mid-July.

Sandler later wore a Team Gaige T-shirt two weeks after that when he appeared on "Live with Kelly and Michael" to promote his movie "Pixels."

After the family left Georgia, they traveled to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. Several Brevard businesses donated money and held fundraisers to help the family with medical bills and other expenses.

Thousands kept up with his progress as he and his family documented it via their Support Gaige Robbins Facebook page. In late June, the page had 1,990 fans. As of press time, it has more than 6,700 fans.

Little wonder that his story has inspired so many -- when FLORIDA TODAY interviewed him in June, he told us, "It's all about who you meet and how you impact them."