PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Students and staff members at Northmoor Primary School in Peoria remembered a former student through the strength of compassion.

Thursday, the school held its 18th annual Aaron Hunter Cuddle Compassion Day.

Hunter was a former student who lost his life to cancer in 2004.

In his honor, students were encouraged to wear pajamas and donate to St. Jude, where Aaron was a patient. Funds collected will benefit St. Jude’s Midwest affiliate.

Shelley Henderson, a 3rd-grade teacher at Northmoor, said the school hopes to continue Aaron’s legacy while teaching students valuable lessons.

“I hope they take the story of Aaron Hunter to their families, they share all of what they learned about Aaron, and then they live showing compassion to others just like Aaron did,” Henderson said.

Aaron’s mother, Marilyn Mowder, said she is proud that the school remembers her son each year.

“He was resilient. He fought through whatever he needed to fight through, and he came to school every day regardless. It makes my heart feel so good to know that this school has never forgotten him, that they continue to do this in memory of him, and me, and my mom, and my children,” Mowder said.

During the most recent Cuddle Compassion Day, the school raised $500.