MONTREAL -- Leonardo Da Vinci Academy's annual fundraiser for the Montreal Neurological Institute took on a particularly special meaning on Wednesday, as the school's gym teacher made a triumphant return after undergoing surgery for a brain tumour.

Daniel Gaudette was diagnosed with the tumour last December. After a six month battle that included surgery at the MNI, he was able to visit his students.

“Physically, I think I'm okay. In my head, I'm not feeling okay, yet,” he said. “I'm still very confused, I'm always top shape at the beginning of the day but feeling very tired in the afternoon.”

It was a fitting day for a physical education teacher to make his return as students took part in an Olympic day as part of this year's fundraising campaign. But despite the fun and games, grade five student said the highlight was seeing their teacher.

“The second I saw him, a smile just went on my face. It kind of warmed my heart. When I got home, I told my parents right away. I felt really happy.”

“It's very emotional. I'm so proud. Daniel is just an incredible inspiration to his students, to the staff,” said principal Nadia Sammarco. “His philosophy, his way of life through this journey has been absolutely incredible.”

It's the fifth year in a row the school has raised money for the MNI. The campaign was started by a teacher who lost her father to cancer. This year, the school raised close to $16,000, their best effort yet.

Gaudette said he's hoping to be back in class in September.

“For me, it's a life challenge and I'm going to make it, I'm going to win it.”