COMMERCE TWP., Mich. - Sometimes when you get knocked down, it takes a lot to get back up.
When Jacob Pesta was diagnosed with a rare Thalamic Brain Tumor four years ago, his parents were blindsided.
"You feel like you're in a very lonely world. Not many people can understand where you're at," his mother Shelly explains.
Enter September 21, 2012: the annual Walled Lake Western High School football team's 'Warriors for Warriors' game to help fight cancer. Front and center in the midst of thousands of pink-wearing fans was an eight-year old with a priceless smile.
"Survivors never give up, and I don't want anyone to have another brain tumor like me again," Jacob said that night, telling us on TV with his fist held high in the air.
It was the brightest highlight of our 7 Action News High School Football coverage, but for the family, it did wonders.
"That grew with such a momentum, it shut down the server of our website," Shelly recalls.
Months after the big night at Walled Lake Western, the board for the Passion Run at Walled Lake Central met to choose an Inspirational Family for their sixth annual run.
"His smile, his picture just lit up as soon as we opened the entire packet and application. The story and everything they've been through, for us, they were automatically in," Walled Lake Central teacher and race director Ned Stojkovich explains.
So now, on March 23, a community will gather again to support an inspirational boy, and his family, in their fight.
"They're raising money for brain research," Jacob says with a proud smile.
Proceeds from the event will go towards C.S. Mott Children's hospital, the Passion for Life organization and the Pesta family.
"You feel heard. I think that's what's most important. You feel someone cares. Really cares," Shelly says, holding back tears.
After treatments took them around the country, most recently in Texas, things are looking up for Jacob. His mother points out he's two years away from being deemed a survivor, and it's a path she believes her son is headed straight towards.
"He's going to be a walking, talking testimony. He's going to be a survivor," she says.
For details on how to join the race, and/or help support the Walled Lake Passion Run and the Pesta Family, visit their site .
Brad Galli is a Sports Reporter for WXYZ Detroit. Follow Brad on Twitter @BradGalli .
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