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Fundraiser held for military vet turned dance instructor

Billy Shaver preparing for his 4th surgery


SAN ANTONIO – A fundraiser was held Sunday for a local military veteran who is now a state-renowned dancer and instructor.

Billy Shaver served for more than a year in Iraq as a medic. He returned home a hero, but was soon faced with another frightening ordeal -- a brain tumor.

Doctors told Shaver he did not have long to live, but two years and three surgeries later he's still fighting. His fourth surgery is scheduled for Sept. 29.

"They don't know exactly what it is. We've tried many different treatments to find out," Shaver said. "I've gone through now three surgeries. I'm going to be going through one more tomorrow (Monday) morning. They're going to go find out what's going on in my brain, what exactly the mass is."

Uncertain of whether Shaver will be able to continue his dance career, his friends and students held a fund raiser to raise money for his medical care and living expenses.

"It hurts just knowing that that is probably one of the worst cards you can be dealt," Shaver's student, Heidi Zapata said. 

With his surgery 24 hours away and his memory impacted by the mass on his brain, those in attendance were hoping to make the night one Shaver will not soon forget.

"We want to see him smile," said Jodie McNiel. "If he can remember this day as one of those "aha" moments in life, that would be awesome."

Shaver managed to get back on the dance floor on the same day he underwent his third surgery. He hopes that strength carries him through the fourth surgery and the recovery that will follow.

"I'm really hoping this won't keep me down for long," he said.