The class of '86 at Grant High School in Los Angeles was a tight-knit bunch -- which is why everyone was so shaken when word got around 9 years ago that one of their classmates had died.
CBS News correspondent Steve Hartman reports Pat Chawki was a right fielder on the city championship baseball team. He was a good-looking kid, and just plain good.
His friends held a memorial for him at their class reunion.
Says one friend who attended, "There was a picture of him and a couple of poems and some candles were lit."
So you can imagine their dismay when it turned out ...
For the last nine years Pat has actually been in a nursing home, suffering from what may be a rare kind of Multiple Sclerosis. His mother Rose says the illness came on so fast, he never had time to tell anyone.
"After 20 days he lost his ability to speak, to walk and to eat," Rose says.
Except for a few hand gestures, Pat had no way to communicate, and basically fell off the map. That was until a classmate named Laurie Green found out he was not only alive, but aware and appreciative.
"He understands everything, and I felt like I just can't not help him," Laurie says. "I can't just sit and watch."
No one's quite sure how the rumor got started that Pat had died, but there's no question about who put an end to it. The day Laurie found out, she got on Facebook and told everyone she knew to tell everyone they knew that Pat was alive and they should get down and see him.
"Laurie is absolutely relentless," says a mutual friend, "But in a good way."
Pat went from having no friends for 9 years, to having roomfulls at once.
"They all came by, 15, 20 people at a time," Rose says. "They were all here in the patio and Patrick was in heaven."
Laurie still wants Pat to get visitors, but now, more importantly -- she wants him to get better.
She says, "I hope that I can cure him, I don't know if it's possible, but that's my goal."
To that end, Laurie has temporarily turned her public relations company into a fund-raising machine to cure Pat.
She's already raised more than $15,000 and has helped Pat get in to see a new doctor. He's an expert who is now re-evaluating the case to see if Pat really has MS, or something else -- something treatable?
"And I'm going to keep going until a doctor tells me something new and there's something they can do," Laurie says.
According to Rose, "She came down from heaven for me and Patrick."
Making a sign that means "love," one can only assume that Pat agrees with his mother.
And if you'd like to help Laurie and Pat -- or if you just want to follow their brave adventure - visit Laurie's Web site.
©2009 CBS Interactive Inc. All rights reserved
Copyright 2009 CBS. All rights reserved.