HERMISTON - Brian Schaffeld stood in awe at the outpouring of support Saturday during a benefit dinner and extravaganza held on his behalf in the commons at Hermiston High School. The HHS senior has been battling Hodgkins lymphoma since late summer.

"Wow - that's a lot of people," he exclaimed. "It's really nice to be in a community where everyone cares about each other."

Schaffeld's lacrosse coach and teammates got all wet for their comrade by sponsoring a dunk tank. Coach Tim McCreary didn't even feel ashamed after getting dunked by Tanisha McLemore, 6.

"Brian played for us, so the team wants to support him," McCreary said. "We thought this would get us some dollars."

John Moro, 15, who also plays lacrosse agreed.

"I know a lot of people who go through cancer - most of the treatments are hard to afford," he said. "I just want to support him.

Schaffeld arrived late for the benefit since recently he underwent a round of chemo and was weak. But he wasn't too weak to smile from ear-to-ear when his teammates presented him with an autographed team jersey.

Carol Collins, Schaffeld's grandmother, said he had talked to her before he became ill and was looking forward to being part of the leadership group because he wanted to make a difference at his school.

He initially felt discouraged, thinking his illness would prevent his ability to impact his fellow student's lives.

"I told him, 'Hey you wanted to make a difference - you never know what God's going to hand you,' " Collins said.

Collins thought the turnout was "awesome."

"I'm just speechless," she said. "This town amazes me - they are supportive of each other.

Schaffeld's parents, Hank and Pam, were equally amazed.

"It's very humbling," Pam said.

"It's pretty impressive to see the love and concern of the community," Hank said. "That's what attracts people and makes them stay or return if they leave."

Teresa Moncrief said she didn't know the Schaffelds before Saturday night, but attended the benefit anyway.

"I keep hearing great things about Brian - I don't know him, but everyone says great things about him," she said. "I just want to help the community."

Bryan Brock and his family also came to support the Schaffelds.

"It's such a great community that supports causes like this," he said.

Suzanne Jepsen, who moved to Hermiston a couple of years ago, was astounded by the outpouring of support.

"This town amazes me," she said.

The Sandstone Middle School Worldwide Drumming played throughout the evening as people enjoyed dinner, participated in a silent auction, got their faces painted and purchased jewelry made by art students.

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