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Dacula restaurant hosting benefit for family

DACULA -- Last spring, Reece McPhail was enjoying the sun, sports and being an everyday kid. Once fall rolled around, his life was changed with a one-word diagnosis: leukemia. On Sunday, Friends Sports Grill in Dacula is holding a benefit event to help his parents with the bills.

"He was a typical 8-year-old, who loved to play basketball, baseball, soccer, tennis lessons -- everything," father Jeff McPhail said. "That's what surprised us. He's never been sick -- a really healthy kid."

Now the young boy is battling for his life day-to-day and his parents are collecting hefty stacks of medical bills.

"I owned a photo studio in Dacula, but closed it," McPhail said. "My wife is a teacher and still working, so we're using that insurance. I'm doing more picking Reece up and doing things for him."

Because of the job cut, the family is struggling to stay afloat while taking care of their son. The McPhails, who have been coming to Friends for years, know owners Ray Stanjevich and Suzanne Cartwright fairly well. The restaurant isn't usually open on Easter, but the owners wanted to help the family.

"They approached us about the benefit because they held one last year for another girl," McPhail said. "To be honest, it's one of those hard things, I've worked all my life, even when I was my son's age. To not work and take help (from others) is difficult. The whole community has been awesome and we've gotten a lot of support."

There will be a silent and live auction, an Easter buffet, an Easter egg hunt, live music and other activities.

Friends Sports Grill is located at 752 Dacula Road in Dacula. The event runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.