NORMAL, Ill. -- Twelve brave young men took the stage at Normal West High School to compete in the annual "King of Hearts" pageant.
The guys sported their best formal and beach wear, and showcased some dance moves. All proceeds from the show will be donated to Sam Birsa, the 2010 valedictorian at Normal West.
Birsa was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma more than a year ago and suffered a relapse in August. In January, he received a stem cell and bone marrow transplant.
As an Illinois Wesleyan sophomore, he was able to stay in school while still getting treatment from the nearby St. Jude affiliate in Peoria.
He says, "It's been really convenient to have my family close." Also mentioning, if he had gone to a school further away, he would have had to take at least 3 semesters off.
Erin Schultz is one of the co-advisers for student council at Normal West. She acknowledges the participants goofy attitude- they are 14-18 year old boys. But there is a specific moment when the boys start to get serious and realize what this event is all about.
She says, "Once the recipient comes in-this year it was Sam- the whole focus changes. [The boys] begin to be focused on "This is for Sam." And it becomes real for them."
Birsa was presented with a $3,000 check at the end of the evening.