HACKETTSTOWN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) - A New Jersey couple who dedicate their lives to serving the community are now relying on that same community for help.
Their 7-year-old son is fighting for his life after being diagnosed with a brain tumor.
But now, there's hope for Henry.
Henry Aulenbach loves baseball, basketball and other sports, and has the spunk to get out there and play. On Friday, he was snug on the couch after a morning dose of radiation.
"He's a tough little guy. Has ups and downs. One thing in his corner? His stubbornness," said his dad David Aulenbach.
The 7-year-old recently started suffering from terrible headaches, so his parents brought him to the hospital. After a series of tests, doctors found a brain tumor. Since then, Henry's mom Chrissie started posting on Facebook asking for prayers: Hope for Henry.
"So much support with communities connected... it became an easy way to communicate. Moreso a therapeutic thing to do at the end of the day: Spill my guts out, get feedback, advice from people," Chrissie told CBS2's Meg Baker.
Henry says he doesn't leave home without his favorite Sesame Street character.
The real Bert from Sesame Street sent Henry a two minute message.
"I heard you're a big fan of mine. Well, guess what? I'm a big fan of yours, Henry," Bert said.
"He said he was my friend," Henry said.
How did the message make him feel?
"Surprised and happy, yeah. And happy."
His older brothers, who are away at college, also take time to post messages of love. Henry records videos with his mom.
"People getting to know a little part of him is special. We think he's just the sweetest, kindest kid," Chrissie said.
The Aulenbachs taught for years in Randolph and now live in Hackettstown. Dave is a principal in Wayne. Those communities they have served for more than 20 years are now giving back to him. Beverly Wheeler and others helped organize daily meals, and a GoFundMe to help pay for medical bills.
"As long as I'm standing I'll be here helping," Wheeler said.
"It's really been a positive to keep with us as we make our way through the days," Dave said.
The first grader has a long road ahead with months of chemo and radiation, but mom says Henry will get through it with a smile - and Bert in his arms.
The couple say their former students - who are now doctors - have stopped in to see Henry and help with his care. The Aulenbach's say they're glad the chose Goryeb Children's Hospital in Morristown.
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