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Community Helping Ronkonkoma Teen Fight Battle With Cancer

RONKONKOMA,. N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- A star school athlete is in the fight of his life against cancer, but his team is now bigger and stronger than he could have ever imagined.

At Ronkonkoma Middle School, teachers are competing to raise money for 14-year-old Tyler Ponzio, the honors student who has thrown his heart into everything.

"Captain of his lacrosse and football team, plays basketball, always outdoors, always the neighborhood boy willing to help," family friend Lisa Levanti told CBS 2's Cindy Hsu.

Ponzio was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma last month. His mom came up with the slogan "Ty Will Win" and immediately the community started fighting the disease together -- from donation jars in local businesses to wrist bands.

"It's turned into three towns worth of people trying to help. They opened up a website, they're having food delivered to the house every night," Levanti said.

One fundraiser sold out in a day. Deirdre Kirwin organized the event.

"Tyler's such a great kid and you know he's fighting a really tough battle, but he will win," Kirwin told Hsu.

Ponzio's classmates are finding lots of ways to get in the fight, including shaving cancer ribbons in their hair.

"I got an idea of just shaving my head when Tyler told me he was going to lose his hair," friend Paul Levanti said.

"He's such a good player in the field. I think if he was that good out there, he can tackle this, too," friend Nick Curry said.

Tyler couldn't be at the fundraiser because he's undergoing chemotherapy at the hospital. But through a text message, he told the students "I will win. There is no other option with all this support."

Doctors say Ponzio has more than a 90 percent chance of being cured.

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