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High school students rally to support Barrie teen with terminal cancer

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Hundreds filled the arena at the Allandale Recreation Centre in Barrie for an Innisdale Secondary School students versus teachers hockey game in honour of Grade 10 student Kevin Chao, who was diagnosed with osteosarcoma - a terminal bone cancer, last year.

"When he got diagnosed with cancer, it was honestly very devastating for all of us. As student council, we wanted to make sure that he still feels integrated in our school community," said Julia Rutenberg, student council president at Innisdale Secondary School.

His fellow students were determined not to let him down, with 50 per cent of the tickets selling out on the first day and over 300 tickets sold in total.

"It's really heartwarming that everybody, especially students, are trying to support Kevin as well," said Kevin's mother, Melissa Brown.

Although Kevin couldn't attend the game in person, he was there in spirit through FaceTime.

"He was shocked to see the amount of support that was backing him up from behind, and he's just happy that everybody is still thinking about him, even though he's not at school every day," his mom said.

Everyone was encouraged to dress up in red and blue because of Kevin's favourite Marvel character Spider-Man.

It was perfect timing for Innisdale Secondary's 'Hero Day.'

"We thought it would be a fun idea to combine it and put all of the proceeds towards helping the family out, and we also thought it would be a good way to raise awareness for it," said Leelie Muxlow, student event organizer.

In the meantime, Kevin remains in good spirits with his friends and family by his side.

"He's very optimistic like you wouldn't be able to tell that he is suffering through something this severe. He's always an outgoing kid, all the teachers love him, he has great friends, he's really funny," said Rutenberg.

"We still have people coming over a few times a week. So, he always looks forward to his visitors," said Brown.

Tuesday's game raised over $900, which will go directly to Kevin's family.

Students said they hope to make it an annual event to support and bring awareness to other students going through severe medical illnesses.

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