LEAGUE CITY, Texas – It’s soccer practice for the boys here at Clear Springs High School in League City, but on their minds is the fellow student athlete who is just too sick to be here.
"We're all gonna go see him at his house if he's home, if he feels better," says soccer player Jason Chicas.
Sixteen-year-old Byron Pineda is back home after being in the hospital for a month. It’s his second battle with leukemia. The first battle was four years ago.
"Yeah, I thought I had it beat but then my mom told me, and honestly I didn’t really want to talk to anyone. When she told me, I locked myself in my room," Pineda said.
A portable pump administers his chemotherapy, and he physically feels a lot better. However, he worries about the mounting medical expenses.
"And we still have some from the last time, we still have a lot," he said.
His father was deported to El Salvador several months ago, so his mother, who cleans houses, is working extra. And his brother quit college to find work to help out financially.
However, his old teammates are showing their solidarity with Byron.
They shaved their heads to bring attention to Byron’s fight. And they’re trying to raise money, by selling T-shirts and hold car washes.
"You see one of our really good friends going through something tough and it’s like, you want to help. It’s not that you have to, you want to, because you don't like to see people go through those things,” Payton Gilbert, a soccer player and friend of Byron’s, said.
They’re efforts are not lost on Byron.
"I wanna thank my team for being there, every step of the way. Love y'all guys. Much love," Byron said.
A Go-Fund-Me page has also been set up by the family.