Raleigh, N.C. — Harrison McKinion and his classmates have always stayed close, and he decided to treat them to lunch to thank them for their support while he was fighting cancer.
The 11-year-old was diagnosed a year ago with leukemia and had to miss 80 days of school at North Raleigh Christian Academy while undergoing chemotherapy. His fifth-grade classmates sent him cards of encouragement and prayed for his recovery.
"Harrison's been a real hero to me," his father, Steve McKinion, said Tuesday. "He's been strong. He's encouraged and inspired me in a lot of ways. But we couldn't have done this without all the other heroes that have come alongside with him."
One of those heroes was Rashawn King, a former Middle Creek High School basketball player who also battled leukemia and now plays on the North Carolina Central University team.
WRAL SportsFan featured King's efforts on the college hardwood recently and noted that he was granted a wish through the Make-A-Wish Foundation to feed his high school a Chick-fil-A lunch to thank them for their support.
"We saw that on TV, and Harrison was really inspired by that," McKinion said.
So, the family worked with a Chick-fil-A restaurant in Wake Forest to donate meals for Harrison's 120 classmates and teachers on Tuesday.
"They've done a lot of stuff," said Harrison, who continues to undergo outpatient therapy although his cancer is in remission.
"They love my son, and they're great friends with him," McKinion said. "To see them enjoy this and to hear them one right after another (say), 'Thank you. Thank you. We love Harrison,' it means all the world."
Harrison's own wish through Make-A-Wish is to see a BCS bowl game, so he and his family will go to Miami next month to watch Alabama take on Notre Dame for the national title.