Greensboro, NC -- Northwest Guilford High School teacher Ray Parrish was diagnosed with astrocytoma, a brain tumor, in December 2012. He taught at the school for 20 years and is also a NWHS graduate.
When students heard about Mr. Parrish's condition, they wanted to do whatever they could to help. There is a donation page, two benefit walk/runs on Saturday and a benefit concert on March 15th to raise money for the beloved teacher.
Students have also created a YouTube video trying to catch the attention of Beyonce. They are asking the performer to come to Greensboro to help with the fundraising efforts for Mr. Parrish.
Mr. Parrish's "We the People" class has won the statewide competition 15 out of the last 16 years.
Wednesday, Mr. Parrish returned to his classroom for the first time since December. Mr. Parrish said being away from his students for this long has been more difficult than fighting cancer.
Returning to the classroom just might be better than any medicine a doctor could prescribe.
"It really is a big part of me. I'm heartbroken to be away from it," Mr. Parrish said.
Hours before he returned to his classroom, Mr. Parrish walked into a much different room at Wesley Long Hospital. He goes to the hospital everyday to get radiation treatment.
"I'll have moments where I worry about the future. But, what I have to do is just pray and know that I'm loved," Mr. Parrish said.
He is loved by his current and new "non-traditional" students. Doctors and nurses now expect a history lesson at the end of every visit.
But, he feels most at home at school.
As Mr. Parrish walked into his classroom, students cheered. He smiled from ear to ear.
"Oh my goodness. This is so awesome. It's amazing to look around the room and see these folks. I miss it so much," he said.
Before he talked about himself, Mr. Parrish wanted to know how his students were doing. He apologized over and over again for not being there for them.
"This has been so my fault. I didn't plan this," he said. "I know I have been out of it since December 22...My brain has been off, but I'm starting to get back into it. I know George Washington is the first president."
While he's been away, Mr. Parrish's students have sent him cards, made him dinner and raised money to help pay his medical bills.
"I just want him to know, no matter what happens, we're always going to be there for him," senior Blake Poe said.
Senior Conner Brown added, "It was just this big emotional relief where we just felt so glad to have him back. We were so happy and just excited. It was just this big bundle of emotions."
Mr. Parrish says he plans to try to stop by his classroom as much as possible. After all, being with his students seems to have a healing effect.
"I don't feel like I've got brain cancer. I feel like I am just up here talking. I just miss seeing everybody," Mr. Parrish said.
Mr. Parrish says doctors have told him he could live anywhere from five to ten more years. However, he's not thinking about death. He has so much to live for. Next year, his son is signed up to take his class. Mr. Parrish plans to be there to teach him.
WFMY News 2