A group of 20 elementary school students in the run club at Marionneaux Elementary School participated in a 5k to support their nine-year-old classmate who is currently battling cancer.

The students recently took on the CHAMP 5k Run for Childhood Cancer Awareness in Tempe in honor and solidarity for their classmates condition.

Their third-grade peer, Michael Carranza, has been battling the disease for nearly six years after being diagnosed at three years old with a rare form of brain cancer called CNS Neuroblastoma.

Surgeries and chemotherapy would follow bringing both hope and heartbreak as he experienced remission followed by recurrence. Carranza’s immune system was so weak he was forced to be home-schooled for a year.

His transition back to school was difficult but was made a little easier when the run club embraced him.

Competing in the 5k not only to uplift their new friend’s spirits but also shine a spotlight on the urgent need for increased funding and research into treatments for rare childhood cancers like Carranza.

Carranza’s medical bills continue to pile up and the students are planning future donation drives to help the young student. An online fundraiser was created to help Carranza.