A 12-year-old's devastating cancer diagnosis is a testament to the togetherness of one North Jersey community, banning together to fight with him through the battle.
Several fundraisers were put in place in Demarest less than two weeks after Gabe Patnoi was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma -- an aggressive form of bone cancer.
Gabe is facing a long road to recovery. But his neighbors, friends and classmates plan on helping him fight harder than the cancer.
"We were rocked as a community hearing about the diagnosis," said Mark Goldstein, whose daughter is in school with Gabe.
"We have created a movement here of really concerned, amazing neighbors that look after each other."
Goldstein, the co-founder of nonprofit organization Tailgate for a Cause, has helped raise nearly $50,000 in the past week ahead of a charity event for the family next week.
"Everyone was upset," Goldstein said. "It struck a nerve with people here that was just miraculous."
Gabe's family friends, Brooke Bokser and Emma Darche -- who have all known each other since diapers -- wanted to help in any way they could.
For their Bat Mitzvah projects, the girls created "Gabe's Got This" bracelets.
"As parents," said Brooke's father Jeff Bokser of Closter, "that was tremendously wonderful to hear."
Beyond the locals, athletes, politicians and business owners are sharing words of hope with Gabe.
New York Giant Odell Beckham, Jr. wished Gabe a happy belated birthday and sent well-wishes in a personalized video.
"I'm praying for you," the athlete said.
Congressman Josh Gottheimer reminded Gabe to "stay strong," saying the entire North Jersey community is pulling for him.
"To see everyone come together to support Gabe because they all know how impactful this is is really powerful," Bokser said.
"It makes you feel good to live in a community like this where in times of need, people come together and do whatever they can to help others."
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