COVINA (CBSLA) — For the past four decades, Coach Lou Farrar has led the Charter Oak High School football team — winning five CIF championships along the way.

“I tell the parents, give me your boys as freshmen,” Farrar said. “And, as a senior, I’ll give you back a man. We build people; that’s what we try to do with our culture is build men.”

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But now the local coaching legend — who just this spring was nominated for the American Football Coaches Foundation Power of Influence Award — is facing a more personal fight. He was recently diagnosed with leukemia.

“Right now, I’m most proud of the fact that I have a family supporting me a great deal,” he said of his diagnosis. “My wife — I call her my physician’s assistant — she’s in charge of everything. All I can do is try to be the most compliant patient they have, and I’m going to do whatever I can to beat this thing.”

But it’s not just his family that’s stepping up. His players, former and current, have sent messages of encouragement and love to the man who means so much to them.

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“When I first heard it, I felt it in my chest, and I didn’t want to believe it,” Brandon Guzman, a wide receiver for Charter Oak, said. “But it’s a process that we’re going to have to go through, and we’re going to fight it, battle it and win it.”

Farrar, who Guzman called the strongest person he knows, is currently undergoing treatment for the disease and using this experience to set an example for his players.

“Life is very important, and it can come and go faster than you can think of,” Farrar said. “I hope through all of this, they can learn how precious their life is and how important the people are around them. That’s the lesson I hope they’ll get from this.”

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Farrar is currently hoping to find a match for a stem cell transplant, and a swab drive to find one will take place Saturday morning at 10 a.m. at Charter Oak High School in Covina. Those who can’t make it can text BIGLOU to 61474 or visit for a cheek swab kit.