Last September, 6-year-old Aghelos Kouvaras was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma after a tumor was discovered in his abdomen. For the better part of a year as the first-grader from Long Island, New York underwent treatment to battle the disease, he kept his spirits high by reading about animals -- and one species fascinated him most of all: endangered penguins. Now, after successfully beating cancer, Aghelos is lending his fighting-spirit to save the birds that brought him hope in his darkest hours.According to a report from NBC New York, as young Aghelos was undergoing chemotherapy treatment to fight his cancer, he spent his days reading about the plight of endangered penguins. In overcoming one of the most difficult challenges a person can face, the 6-year-old cancer survivor gained an appreciation for life few grown-up ever really achieve.
"In the hospital, I asked Aggie if he had a wish; if there was anything he wanted," says Aghelos' mother, Elizabeth Kouvaras. "He didn't want an X-box or a Playstation. He said he wanted to save penguins. 'What are we going to do without animals?' he asked. If they die, we will all die."
It was only a few weeks back that Aghelos finished his cancer treatment -- but he's already done more to save an endangered species than most ever will. Touched by the young boy's passion for penguins, dozens of his friends, teachers, and family members have offered an outpouring of support for him and his cause.
This weekend, Aghelos and a group of around 80 supporters will participate in a 5K race held by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) called 'Run for the Wild'. So far, the youngster's exceptional spirit has helped raise over $3,000 towards protecting the world's most threatened species.
"His work to raise money to save penguins while fighting his own battle is inspirational," says John Calvelli, who helps organize the race. "He has become a role model for an entire community."
I suspect, however, that the scope of his inspiration will reach much further yet.
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