WASHINGTON, Mo. (KMOV.com)-- Childhood cancer is taking a toll on two Washington, Mo. high schools. Now, students who normally compete against each other are teaming up to help classmates fight the disease.
It’s not often you see rival high schools Borgia and Washington on the same softball field.
“Borgia and Washington, it just goes way back,” said Payton Dubberke, a senior at Washington High School. “Everyone knows we're enemies. We're always going to want to beat each other.”
While many of their sports often meet, softball schedules haven’t matched up in years.
“We have not played each other in four years,” said Josie Lindemann, a senior at St. Francis Borgia Regional High School across town.
This month they will finally face-off. But this year, they are rooting for the same winner - their classmates battling cancer.
“Both of our schools have been affected by cancer,” said Dubberke.
“Steph was the first one I guess you could say and everyone was shocked, kind of like ‘Oh my gosh, cancer actually affected a kid in such a small community, that's crazy,’” said Lindemann.
So this softball season, Borgia and Washington are rivals for a reason.
"This game is very different," said Lindemann.
On Monday afternoon, September 10th, the two high school softball teams will face off in a benefit game, raising money for "Friends or Kids with Cancer."
"It actually goes to the families and kids that need it," said Dubberke.
It’s an organization Borgia senior Josie Lindemann knows well. It’s been there to support her family while they rally around her 20-year-old sister Steph, a recent Borgia grad.
"The most recent news is honestly heartbreaking but they found a couple tumors in her skull," said Lindemann about her older sister, who continues fighting.
Steph’s first diagnosis in 2015 shook this community. And then hearts broke again for a Washington High School student, Paige Babbs. Sadly, bad news followed yet again at Borgia, when senior Cole Boland was diagnosed.
On Jan. 4, the St. Francois Borgia Regional High School announced on their Facebook post Steph had passed away.
Now, resilience is replacing the rivalry that once ruled this town.
"It made us realize we really need to make a difference with what we have," said Dubberke.