Shawnee Mission North students on Thursday turned out to support a senior battling a brain tumor.
Daran Wankum was a proud member of his school's NJROTC team. The senior had enlisted in the United States Marine Corps with plans to join the service after graduating in May.
But then he began to experience severe migraines and double vision. He had a brain tumor, and emergency surgery was scheduled.
"Daran is a strong young man, and surgery to remove the tumor was successful," Ginger Stallings wrote to KCTV5 in an email. "Chemotherapy is about to begin, and he's got a long tough road ahead of him."
The family is struggling with the medical bills. Classmates have sold T-shirts that say "Semper Fi Daran" on it, along with "Stand with Love, Loyalty and Honor in Support for Daran Wankum." More than $1,000 has been raised.
The school prepared a banner to honor and show support. Classmates and faculty clad in their T-shirts went to the University of Kansas Hospital on Thursday to deliver the banner and other get well posters.
"For us, it's more we wanted to reassure him we didn't leave him," said classmate Autumn Coleman, who helped organize the T-shirt drive. "It's reassuring for us he'll be fine. We haven't forgotten him."
Wankum's mother, Cheryl Wankum, said the symptoms came out of nowhere on Sept. 12 when he complained about problems with his vision.
"From double vision to a biopsy, shunt, port and five surgeries later in less than a month," she said.
Daran Wankum began chemotherapy this week and said the outpouring of support definitely is good medicine for his spirits.
"I feel honored to be honest. I didn't think this would ever happen to me," he said. "Never in a million years did I think this would happen to me."
His parents had asked Daran Wankum's recruiter to send a Marine to stand at his hospital door for one night. Not only was that request granted the night before a surgery, but numerous Marines showed up to support him.
"It meant the world. That's like my second family," he said. "The fact they showed up and supported me meant a lot to me."
Daran Wankum and his family are overwhelmed by the support and eternally grateful. His mother said she has become teary eyed to know that so many people care about her son and her family.
Additional fundraisers are planned. Look for Daran's Project on Facebook or at Mission Bank, 5800 Foxridge Dr., Mission, KS 66202.
Copyright2012 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved.
Tuesday, June 18 2013 9:23 AM EDT2013-06-18 13:23:30 GMT
A 5-year-old girl set up a lemonade stand across the street from the Westboro Baptist Church compound, and now the group is targeting her. Jayden Sink raised nearly $200 on Friday while she sold lemonadeMore >
A 5-year-old girl set up a lemonade stand across the street from the Westboro Baptist Church compound, and now the group is targeting her.More >
Tuesday, June 18 2013 6:38 PM EDT2013-06-18 22:38:56 GMT
A convicted Kansas City terrorist was part of a foiled plot to bomb Wall Street, a deputy FBI director told members of Congress Tuesday.Deputy FBI Director Sean Joyce testified Tuesday that the KansasMore >
A convicted Kansas City terrorist was part of a foiled plot to bomb Wall Street, a deputy FBI director told members of Congress Tuesday.More >
Tuesday, June 18 2013 4:02 PM EDT2013-06-18 20:02:57 GMT
Police are investigating a protest at Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach's home as he said Monday he is prepared to use lethal force if necessary.The KCK Police Department issued a statement MondayMore >
Police are investigating a protest at Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach's home as he said Monday he is prepared to use lethal force if necessary.More >
Tuesday, June 18 2013 2:30 PM EDT2013-06-18 18:30:12 GMT
The Kansas City Zoo's rock star is sick, so he's getting some TLC behind the scenes."Nikita is a bit under the weather so he's resting in his behind-the-scenes bedroom," said Julie Neemeyer, spokeswomanMore >
The Kansas City Zoo's rock star is sick, so Nikita is getting some TLC behind the scenes. The polar bear apparently has a tummy bug. More >
Tuesday, June 18 2013 8:31 PM EDT2013-06-19 00:31:54 GMT
Thieves stole the National Trails Museum's iconic statute over the weekend, and replacing it would cost an estimated $75,000.Museum officials believe copper thieves sought the 6-foot tall bronze statute,More >
Thieves stole the National Trails Museum's iconic statue over the weekend, and replacing it would cost an estimated $75,000.More >
Tuesday, June 18 2013 7:47 AM EDT2013-06-18 11:47:53 GMT
Firefighters faced an unexpected danger after flames caused ammunition to go off inside a home that caught fire. Crews were called just before 2 a.m. Tuesday to a home in the 8800 block of WestbrookeMore >
Firefighters faced an unexpected danger after flames caused ammunition to go off inside a home that caught fire.More >