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MORE THAN 600 PEOPLE (above and below) attended a support benefit for Landon Hochstetler at the Ice Cracking Resort on Thursday. Many were wearing "Team Landon" t-shirts.

Benefit for Landon draws hundreds of well-wishers

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Landon Hochstetler's friends describe him as a sweet, friendly, always happy kid who's never had a bad day.

"He's everyone's favorite kid," said Sherman Eberle, a close friend who witnessed the accident that put Hochstetler in a coma for the past three weeks.

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More than 600 people attended a spaghetti feed benefit at the Ice Cracking Lodge Thursday to show the 16-year-old how much the community is praying for his recovery.

Thousands of community members have also been tracking Hochstetler's medical condition on his Caring Bridge website -- a forum where "Team Landon" was created.

As a result, t-shirts with the "Team Landon" message and Hochstetler's Detroit Lakes High School hockey no. 21 were made as a fundraising opportunity. More than 200 shirts were sold at the school just in one day.

And Thursday's spaghetti feed, silent auction and t-shirt sale brought in a total of more than $18,000, said Kathy Eberle, one of the organizers.

"I just wanted to do anything to help him," she said.

Kathy Eberle is part of the home-schooling community where she got to know the Hochstetlers. She said Landon is like one of her own children, who spent so much time with her son Sherman that people thought they were brothers.

But the support hasn't stopped at the home-schooling community. A number of DLHS students and hockey players showed up at the benefit rocking their "Team Landon" t-shirts.

Hockey player Conner Collins is a sophomore who's been friends with Hochstetler for three years. He said no matter who Hochstetler meets, he stays friends with them, never losing touch with anyone.

"He's very upbeat, really never stops," Collins said, adding that the whole team is praying for him and wants to let him know they "always have his back" no matter what he's going through.

According to Hochstetler's Caring Bridge website, he's been on a rollercoaster ride since the day of the accident on Sept. 13. The doctors have performed several different procedures to stabilize the pressure on his brain and the family has been awaiting positive results.

"I just miss him," Kathy Eberle said, tearing up. "It sure is hard when you're the one waiting for someone."

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