Washington community rallies around high school student battling - KMOV.com

Washington community rallies around high school student battling cancer

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Cross town rivals come together to support a Borgia High School student battling cancer. (Credit: Washington High School students) Cross town rivals come together to support a Borgia High School student battling cancer. (Credit: Washington High School students)
Stephanie Lindemann is battling a type of bone cancer, and the community is rallying behind her. (Credit: Lindemann family) Stephanie Lindemann is battling a type of bone cancer, and the community is rallying behind her. (Credit: Lindemann family)

WASHINGTON, Mo. (KMOV.com) - Drive an hour west out of St. Louis and you'll find yourself in historic Washington. Within city limits, a cross-town rivalry runs deep. St. Francis Borgia Regional High School and Washington High School compete in nearly everything. 

But recently, the schools have put that aside for something much bigger - a student who is fighting for her life. 

"Steph has a beautiful soul. The whole family does. She is a vibrant, joyful person. She has such a great spirit about her all throughout this," said Moira Vossbrink, Director of Marketing and Admissions at Borgia.

Stephanie Lindemann was diagnosed with stage four Ewing Sarcoma in November 2015. After 13 months of chemo and radiation to try and beat the bone cancer, doctors said she was in remission. But in January 2017, she relapsed.

"It's honestly kind of tough because you know you can't do anything even though you want to be there for her," said Josie Lindemann, Steph's sister who is a sophomore at Borgia. 

Across town, students at Washington High School did find a way to help.

"I got a call from the blood drive director at Mercy. She told me there is an individual in the community, a student at Borgia who was in need of blood product," said Krista Williams, a teacher at Washington High School and also a Borgia alum. 

Washington students who were part of Project Lead the Way decided to dedicate a pre-planned blood drive to Steph. 

"We went from 60 donors scheduled to 130 within about three or four hours of having that information out to the kids," said Williams. 

"I just think it's really cool to see how many people joined the blood drive to help Stephanie and help someone else in our community even though we are from different schools and we are like cross town rivals," said Emily Groppe, a senior at Washington High School.

The selfless gesture shows the Lindemanns they are not alone. 

"Her blood and her platelets have been crashing ever since she started chemo. So when they hosted that blood drive, it touched us to know even though in sports we are enemies, it's kind of cool to get together for one good cause," said Josie Lindemann. 

"It's been phenomenal. It's been overwhelming. It's been humbling," said Steve Lindemann, Steph's dad. 

The Washington students didn't stop there. They also collected money in Steph's honor for the organization, Friends of Kids with Cancer.

"That just goes to show what a classy community Washington is. It's not about who goes where. It's about helping someone in need," said Vossbrink.

The outpouring of support goes even beyond Washington. Other schools that often compete against the Knights in sports are now rallying around Steph. Union High School sold stocking caps that said "U-Knighted for Steph." Several St. Clair classes also sent her homemade cards, letting her know they are thinking of her. 

Of course, Steph's own classmates at Borgia are also continuously showing their support. You can often find them wearing shirts that say "Just keep swimming," a favorite motto of the young lady.

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