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Barcelona send shirt, invite Parkland victim Anthony Borges to Camp Nou

Barcelona have invited Anthony Borges, one of the victims of the Parkland, Florida, school shooting, to meet Lionel Messi and the rest of the first-team squad before taking in a game at Camp Nou once he has recovered.

The club also offered their own medical team to aid the recovery of Borges, who was shot five times as he helped save the lives of 20 of his fellow students at Stoneman Douglas High School.

Borges, 15, was shot in his legs and back as he barricaded a classroom door to protect others as the assailant opened fire. He remains in the hospital, where he has undergone extensive surgery.

In total, 17 people were killed when a shooter opened fire at the school on Feb. 14.

Following the incident, Barca were alerted to the fact that Borges spent two months playing for the club's academy in Lauderhill, near Fort Lauderdale, in 2016.

In a phone call with Borges' father this week, the club have subsequently invited Borges to the city to meet the players and have sent a signed first-team shirt to the hospital.

"It was journalist Santiago Segurola who set things in motion, informing the club of the situation," Barca said in a statement. "We immediately offered the support of our own medical services to help ensure that Anthony gets all the surgery he needs to get back to enjoying one of his greatest passions, playing soccer, as soon as possible."

Barca also said that the first-team players were particularly affected by the photo of Borges in the hospital with sheriff Scott Israel that went viral on social media.

"The image of Anthony in hospital hand-in-hand with sheriff Scott Israel drew the attention of our players, who expressed their best wishes on an official first-team shirt and sent it his way," the statement added.

Borges' father, Royer, said that Barcelona's gesture was unexpected.

"I thank Barca for all their support and for going to all this trouble to help cheer up my son," he said. "I understand that the club's doctors also helped with his recovery.

"He never expected Barca to do this. Neither did I. When he was about to go in for surgery, by chance I heard the voicemail, because I couldn't receive calls, and put the phone on loudspeaker so he could hear the message. He was smiling so much."

Through their social media channels, Barca are now encouraging people to donate to help cover the cost of the teenager's medical bills.

As of Thursday, $602,130 of the $700,000 crowdfunding goal had been raised.