SARASOTA - Students at Southside Elementary celebrated raising almost $9,000 to bring awareness to Pediatric Cancer Research, in honor of former student Benjamin Gilkey who passed away after being diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

"It is super special for the students here because they all either have known about, have heard through all the years that we’ve done this or they already actually had a relationship with the two kiddos that were here three years ago that left us too early," said school principal Jennifer Nzeza.

Nzeza says walking out to a sea of gold shows how much the community and students care to lend a helping hand in finding a cure for pediatric cancer.

"It’s such a special place, here at Southside Elementary School, because it is about service," said Nzeza. "Kids even at a young age understand what it means to give back and to give of themselves to others.”

The money raised by the students will be donated to the Benjamin Gilkey Fund for Innovative Cancer Research and Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. Laura Gilkey, Benjamin’s mom, says she couldn’t be more thrilled to see Benji’s peers do so much to raise awareness.

"It’s really important to empower kids with the knowledge so that they can stand up for their peers because they’re going to be the next people that can be change makers,” said Gilkey.

Gilkey says she’s honored her son Benji the Brave’s memory will live on forever and hopes by next year the Go Gold campaign will go national.

"I’m very grateful. His name is all over the school, there’s rainbows everywhere for him and all this gold and it really means a lot to me," said Gilkey. "I’m very grateful for this Southside family.

More than a dozen schools in Sarasota County participated in wearing gold. To help make a donation in honor of Benji the Brave visit Benjamin Gilkey Fund for Innovative Cancer.