Community Inspired by Teen’s Life

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Several communities are paying tribute to a high school senior who lost his battle with cancer the day after he was crowned king at his prom.

Riverside senior Gary Lukasiewicz will be laid to rest this week.

People in the communities that make up the Riverside School District are calling his life an inspiration.

This story is more about the community that rallied around Gary Lukasiewicz over the last two weeks. People in Lackawanna County said the energy he created will continue on after his death.

What started as three simple words in support of a friend became a movement that brought a community together.

The evidence is everywhere in Lackawanna County, the mantra "Keep Fighting Gary" and the yellow and purple ribbons are symbols for a boy who became much bigger than anyone ever anticipated.

"The energy came from Gary, you know. When we put it all in perspective Gary Lukasiewicz brought the energy to us. He brought towns and communities together, and he gave us all a reason to believe," said Riverside Junior/Senior High School Principal Joe Moceyunas.

At first, students at Riverside needed a reason to believe that their senior class president would pull through his bout with cancer, then the signs and Gary's story spread.

In the last two weeks of his life, you could find a tribute to Gary almost anywhere in Lackawanna County.

"It was just amazing the support from not just this community but all the other communities. He did that, and it's still going. He's gone but he will never be forgotten," said Heather Perrone of Taylor.

Many of the signs supporting Gary have changed since Saturday when Gary Lukasiewicz lost his fight with cancer. The community hasn't stopped fighting though.

They said the movement for Gary is far from over.

Social media started the whole "Keep Fighting Gary" movement. Gary Lukasiewicz is still a topic on Facebook and Twitter, but the focus has changed. People are tweeting "Gary Inspired Me" and leaving memories of Gary or reflections on the past two weeks.

"Absolutely, it makes me proud to live here, makes me proud to raise my family here," added Perrone.

"We're in the process now of healing, and I know Gary is in heaven now looking down us saying, 'Okay, it's time to heal now. I brought all you guys together, keep it going, don't let it die'" Moceyunas said.

It turns out a movement that was meant to give a sick boy some strength gave a community strength in return.