Friends, family and former classmates of Cedar Hill resident Michael Reyes are working together toward a benefit football game to help him with medical expenses.

“Michael was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma in 2009,” said long-time friend and classmate Kim Essary of Midlothian. “He was reported to be cancer-free, but recently it came back much more aggressive.”

The game, spearheaded by Essary and another friend, Hans Turner, a 1985 graduate of Cedar Hill High School, “Tackling Cancer” will kick off at 7 p.m. Saturday, May 14, with the Denton County Rhinos playing the North Texas Freedom Fighters at the old Cedar Hill School Stadium.

The campaign started up as a result of posting a Reyes’ Angels Facebook page and Essary said the response has been overwhelming.

“We have over 700 members on the Facebook page,” she said. “Michael said he didn’t realize there were that many people who cared about him. He has been through so much pain throughout his treatments and said he has become very tired of being poked and prodded on. He also said there was no way he could have hung in there without the support he has felt because of the hundreds of responses. You know, it’s amazing what support from other people will do to help a person through an experience like this – and also Michael’s faith in God has definitely been a factor.”

According to a press release, the second round of chemo treatments damaged his liver and now he needs a liver transplant before he can move forward with a stem cell transplant.

“Mike wants to live – he wants to beat this cancer so he can pay it forward. If there’s one thing I have learned about him it’s that he is one strong man and if anyone can go through this and beat it, it’s Mike Reyes,” Essary said.

The Denton County Rhinos are having their inaugural year in 2010-2011. The two owners, Jim Munday and Leven Pendergrass, are former U.S. Marines. Munday has more than 10 years of experience as a player and a coach in semi-pro football. Pendergrass also has coaching experience and played semi-pro ball.

Proceeds from the benefit will go toward a liver and stem cell transplant for Reyes.

For information, email Reyes_Angels@yahoo.com. To make a donation, send to Reyes’ Angels, P.O. Box 33, Midlothian, TX 76065.

Contact Paul at paul.gauntt@wninews.com or 469-517-1450.