JANESVILLE

When people say “kids these days,” they’re often complaining about young people’s character, work ethic and values.

When Janesville police officer Justin Stubbendick says “kids these days,” he’s usually praising their character, work ethic and values.

A gymnasium full of Craig High School students proved his point Tuesday when they gathered to honor 4-year-old Isaac Johnson, a boy whose story inspired them to raise $10,000 for his medical treatment.

Isaac was diagnosed with high-risk stage 4 neuroblastoma, a type of cancer, in March 2017. He has endured eight rounds of chemotherapy, two stem-cell transplants, 27 radiation treatments and five rounds of immunotherapy, according to his GoFundMe page.

Isaac’s tenacity inspired Stubbendick.

“Isaac is my superhero,” the police officer said.

But Stubbendick, who has been helping the family since the beginning, was running out of fundraising ideas. He contacted Craig resource officer Brian Foster. From there, Craig seniors Sam Smith, Taylor Salmon and Claire Mikkelson took over.

Every year, the seniors plan some kind of fundraising drive, Mikkelson explained.

One year, the drive was for Project 16:49, an organization that helps homeless youth. Another year it benefited the Cougar Closet, a service that helps Craig students in need.

This year, it was for Isaac.

Students raised money through the winter dance, penny wars and raffles with gift cards from local businesses. They also received donations from JP Cullen, Blackhawk Community Credit Union and Modern Woodmen, a fraternal benefit organization.

On Tuesday, Isaac, his brother Tyler, 10, and his mother, Debbie Johnson, walked to the Craig gym accompanied by Batman—he’s Isaac’s favorite superhero—Janesville Police Chief Dave Moore and several other police officers.

They were followed by the Craig High School band, which worked its way through the “Batman” theme several times.

In the gym, Isaac was given a long standing ovation by a bunch of high school kids he had never met.

Throughout the ceremony, the 4-year-old stuck pretty close to his mom and appeared overwhelmed by all the attention.

His mother, who knew about the ceremony in advance, still seemed surprised and moved.

“They didn’t know us,” she said. “It’s amazing.”

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