The last day Parker Denny was able to attend classes at Sycamore High School was Friday, February 19. That weekend, he went to the hospital with serious headaches, and doctors discovered a tumor on the high school senior's brain.
"It came as a shock to everyone because we were like 'he was just here Friday,'" said Rose Mitchell, a counselor at Sycamore High School.
Surgery to remove the tumor was successful and Denny's outlook is good, but the school district said he developed Posteria Fossa Syndrome, which has affected his ability to walk, talk and swallow.
"That has been a huge hurdle for him to get through," said Mitchell. "Every day he is working hard and fighting hard with the physical therapy and occupational therapy that he has to go through."
The Aviators community wanted Parker to know he's not going through any of it alone.
Classmates held Jersey Day to celebrate his love for sports, wore gold for pediatric cancer awareness, wrote him letters of support and are selling Parker Denny Strong wristbands to raise money for Denny's family. A Go-Fund-Me set up for the family has helped raise more than $19,000 and the community group Sycamore Bridges has already helped raise enough money to cover six months worth of rent for the family.
"So our Sycamore family is unparalleled in their support for Parker," said Mitchell. "All the students here."
She added that students hope they won't have to miss their classmate for much longer: Denny is trying to get strong enough to join everyone at graduation this year.
"One of the things that just pushes him -- obviously they definitely have a lot of faith -- and he's just like 'I want to walk across that stage. I want to walk across that stage and get my diploma,'" said Mitchell.