Published: Oct 23, 2011 8:46 PM EDT

COLLIER COUNTY, Fla. - A Collier County teacher is inspiring his school and community to help find a cure for cancer.

Former Oakridge Middle School teacher Fran Guarrera was the guest of honor at the Bulldog Dash on Saturday.

Guarrera taught at Oakridge for nine years, but retired this spring after he was diagnosed with brain cancer.

"About 80 percent of getting better is your emotional, how you're going to fight it. If you have a really good attitude about it and you want to beat it, you will," Guarrera said.

The annual Bulldog Dash started three years ago to honor the Oakridge teachers who passed away.  But the 5k has a special meaning this year, with Guarrera as a walking inspiration.

Teacher Katie Sullivan organized the walk and run, which raised money for the American cancer society's relay for life.

"Everbody has a fran in their life," Sullivan said. "Fran is everybody's family member, aunt, uncle friend who has cancer."
 
Guarrera walks two to three miles a day now.  He's gaining strength since his surgery.

"I used to nap every afternoon, I was so tired and fatigued," Guarrera said. "Now I don't need to nap."

His long strides serve as an inspiration to his family and friends.

"You can't believe it, it just really boosts you up," Guarrera said.