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Young boy collects cans to help sick classmate

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HOLLAND, Mich.-- A fourth grader with a big heart is paying it forward to help his best friend who is battling some life-threatening illnesses.

Max Heerema and Keyan Hogan have been inseparable since first grade.

"It takes a special kid and family to embrace everything that comes along with Keyan,” said Stephanie Hogan, Keyan's mother.

“Keyan's a quadruplet. They were born at 27 weeks and she got the short end of all the sticks.," Hogan explained. "Cerebral palsy, her entire GI tract doesn’t work. She has some seizure disorder,  she’s visually impaired.”

Even with all that, Max has been determined to give Keyan the best days of her life, from paddling on the water during the summer, to zip lining, and visiting Keyan when she has to go the hospital.

But Max decided to take his dedication a step further.

"Everybody hates returning pop cans so I thought I could collect them and return them and probably get a lot of money for them," Max explained.

He started collecting pop cans in October with the hopes of helping Keyan’s family afford some important things to help make the end of Keyans life more comfortable, like a new hospital bed, car seat, and a computer system to help Keyan speak louder since she has a tracheostomy.

The Heeremas and Hogans have become familiar faces the Family Fare in Holland, making weekly trips to the bottle return.

In the span of about two months, Max collected nearly $3,000 with the hopes of reaching $5,000.

“I often say I wouldn’t wish what he have been through on anybody, but I would definitely wish everything we have learned because it really makes you appreciate friendship and life and everyday funs things that people take for granted," said Keyan's mother.

Max knows a day will come when he will have to say goodbye to his dear friend. But until then, the two focus on the time they have with each other.

If you'd like to contribute to Cans for Keyan, click here.

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