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Boise boy battling spinal tumor gifted with 'family of support' and more

The 35th Annual Friendship Scramble Golf Tournament raised $35,000 for a five-year-old boy and his family. He was recently diagnosed with a life-threatening illness.

BOISE, Idaho — Community members in Boise came together to show a local family they are not alone. The Friendship Foundation put on its 35th annual Friendship Scramble Golf Tournament on Saturday to raise thousands of dollars and donations for a five-year-old boy diagnosed with a life-threatening illness.

"We’re trying to help one child at a time," said Mike Russell, the director for the Friendship Foundation and Friendship Scramble Golf Tournament.

The Friendship Foundation teams up with St. Luke’s Mountain State Tumor Institute to help a child diagnosed with a serious illness. 

Russell created the fundraiser 35 years ago and it's grown each year. About 160 people donated their time to play and volunteer at the 35th Scramble Saturday. 

“It’s about forming a family," said Rebecca Russell, a board member for the Foundation and Mike's daughter. "We're forming a family of support for a new family entering our group of people that come together every year.”

This year's recipient of support is five-year-old Rio Atagi, who was recently diagnosed with a spinal cord tumor called ependymoma.

“He’s in pretty darn good spirits most of the time, he gets tired easily," said Patti Beavers, Rio's grandma.

To help with medical costs and make things easier for Rio and his family, the Friendship Scramble raised $35,000 to donate to them. They also gifted Rio with some of his favorite toys and treats to enjoy as he continues on his road to recovery. 

In addition, Boise Mayor Lauren McLean proclaimed May 15 as 'Rio Day.'

“It’s the kindness that people are showing to my daughter and my grandson and family that brings tears to my eyes and makes me cry the most," Beavers said.

The Atagi family is thankful for the generous and supporting Boise community. Beavers said her favorite part of the day was seeing her grandson move, climb around golf carts and enjoy life.

“I think this is what Rio needed today and his parents too," Beavers said.

Above all, Saturday was to show Rio he has a community full of support with him every step of the way.

“Listen, there’s a lot of room," Mike Russell said. "We love to bring people into the fold.”

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