Forest community rallies for Team Cassidy to support teen fighting cancer

BEDFORD COUNTY, Va. (WDBJ7) - A hometown high school student is fighting for her life, battling cancer far from home. But she has a large, pink army helping her fight this fight.

WDBJ7 photo

"Yep, there's that beautiful girl."

Aliceon Bourne is looking at a recent photograph of 15-year-old Cassidy Richardson. It's in a frame in the classroom next to Bourne's, where Cassidy's mom teaches. Bourne has known the teenager for a long time.

"She had just this beautiful white blond hair, and it would curl at her temples," Bourne recalls.

Bourne knew Cassidy as a toddler, taught her as a kindergartner and has watched her grow into a young woman.

"She doesn't complain," Bourne said. "She hits the door running with her shoulders back and her chin up and there are no words needed for that."

Cassidy's tenacity to swim, perform and do regular teenage things is remarkable. It's because this young lady has been battling cancer since she was 9 years old, doing all those remarkable things through chemotherapy, a knee replacement and a metal rod in her femur.

"I think when it's a child though," Bourne said, "it takes you to your knees, it's just a different level."

"Every time at night before I go to sleep I just pray for her and think about what she's going through," said Rylee Champney, Cassidy's cousin.

Champney, a freshman at Jefferson Forest High School, and her peers are thinking about Cassidy while she receives treatment at Johns Hopkins in Maryland. Though she's far, these students want Cassidy to know love and support are close by.

"It honestly just shows how supportive our student body is of each other," said classmate Sophomore Peyton Poindexter, "and how much we want to help each other."

That's why this week dozens of students wore pink, Cassidy's favorite color, to remind her things are a little brighter with Team Cassidy on your side. They snapped a photo with a banner reading Team Cassidy outside at lunchtime.

"There were so many people out there." Poindexter said, smiling. "Like our photographer had to back all the way up against this wall because all of us were right there."

They're right here for Cassidy and want to remind her, they're in it for the long haul.

"When she comes back she knows, we've got her back," Bourne said. "We're right there... We've got them. And we're not gonna let go."

Thomas Jefferson Elementary School will hold a pancake fundraiser for Cassidy on December 21 at the elementary school cafeteria.

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