NYC school hosts dance-a-thon for 4-year-old battling brain tumor

MASPETH, Queens (WABC) -- A New York City school hosted a special Disney-themed dance-a-thon fundraiser Monday for a 4-year-old boy battling a rare form of brain cancer.

Auggie Vinti, a pre-K student at St. Stanislaus Kostka Catholic Academy in Maspeth, who was recently diagnosed a brain tumor known as Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma.

"He has something called DIPG, and it's a rare brain cancer, and it starts in your brain stem," aunt Nicole Viniti said. "So it affects your breathing, walking, balance, swallowing."

The location of the tumor, in the part of the brain just above the back of the neck and connected to the spine, makes surgery to remove the tumor nearly impossible. As a result, DIPG has just a 2% survival rate.

"Our hearts break for his mom," Principal Catherine Mangone said. "She has another child, a 2-year-old, as well. So you want to take care of your family while you still need to take care of your son and all of his needs."

Along with colorful costumes and Disney fun, food options like baked items, cotton candy, and popcorn were sold at the event, with all funds raised going to Auggie's family to support medical and related expenses.

"We've actually had people who are former students, parents whose children don't come here anymore, pitching in to bake, volunteer to sell, sell raffle tickets," Education Director Joan Forgione said. "And we are hoping lots of the other parents of current students come down."

Auggie, who has dreams of becoming a firefighter when he grows up, is currently in the hospital receiving radiation treatment.

After six weeks, he can be re-evaluated and potentially start a clinical trial.

A GoFundMe page has been started that has already raised more than $53,000.

The money will certainly help, but so too will the love and youthful embrace of an extended family ready to support Auggie in the battle that lies ahead.

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