NEENAH - Neenah High School celebrated its homecoming this week and in the name of school spirit, students pulled together to give back to one of their peers.
Freshman Zavier Sims spent the last few months in and out of the hospital for a bacterial brain infection and now his classmates are making a difference..
For Neenah Freshman Zavier Sims, surrounded by his basketball buddies, this is a comeback.
"This is amazing," said Sims, going on to describe his friends as, "pretty cool!"
Over the last few months, Sims has undergone 7 surgeries, including 2 brain surgeries to stop a severe bacterial infection. He still has a long road to recovery.
But Sims' classmates decided to do something special.
"We wanted to make our homecoming week a week for him," said Celia Malbach.
Students declared this week "The Comeback." Several clubs organized fundraisers to help Sims and his family.
Sims' mom Shelli Klapatauskas says she is overwhelmed.
"We feel so appreciative, so grateful and this is amazing," said Klapatauskas.
School principal Brian Wunderlich couldn't be more proud.
"This has really been more kid-directed than adult-led and it's been great to watch kids, when they're empowered, do amazing things," Wunderlich explained.
Wunderlich told FOX 11 this tailgate party was supposed to be the biggest fundraiser of the week, but before this they'd already raised close to ten thousand dollars.
"When we started this thought maybe we could raise a couple thousand dollars and now ten thousand? Holy smokes!" exclaimed Wunderlich.
And it's not just a comeback for Sims. Students told us making a difference for him has made a difference for them too.
"Just seeing the whole school come together is such a great feeling and I have a lot of pride for my school and the community," said Malbach.
A feeling Sims and his mother share.
"The whole purpose of this week was to bring back Neenah pride and I can say I am definitely proud to be from Neenah," Klapatauskas.
"Thank you and they're wonderful," said Sims.
Sims' mom told us he was devastated when he found out he can't play basketball this year. She says he's determined to come back better and stronger next year.
Neenah High School Principal Brian Wunderlich reported on Sunday that they raised over $13,000 dollars total for Zavier Sims.
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