Bradwell Institute senior Carleigh Buck is doing what she can to support a friend in need. Buck is using her online GoEnnounce page, “A cure for Lucas,” to raise funds for Lucas Rupprecht, a Bradwell student recently diagnosed with Burkitt lymphoma, a rare form of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma cancer.
Buck said she created the page on the student networking site primarily to help her friend. GoEnnounce also helps promote students’ talents and academic successes. Buck said she first found GoEnnounce on Instagram. The site offered a product giveaway for students with college acceptance letters, she said. She also saw she could set up a donation page through the site.
GoEnnounce was launched for students in January 2013, according to co-founder Melissa Davis. Davis and her sister, Meghan, established the site.
“GoEnnounce is a platform that connects students with their network to help them achieve their goals,” Davis said. “The site gives students a place to tell their educational stories with their family, friends and mentors. Students ‘ennounce’ and track their achievements, projects and updates with their network to get the encouragement and financial help they need to succeed. We are so inspired by students like Carleigh, who are able to utilize our platform to create awareness for causes they care about. In Carleigh's case, she's successfully using our 'crowdfunding' feature and created an online fundraiser through her GoEnnounce student page, which enabled her to tap into her network to raise funds for a friend's medical bills.”
Buck stressed she is just one of many people who care about Rupprecht. She hopes that by placing his story on her page, she'll get the word out about his illness and the financial burden his family is facing from rapidly mounting medical expenses.
“Lucas is just a great person,” Buck said. “I’m certainly not the only person who wanted to do something for him. I started (the page) because the family needed help. They’re great citizens.”
She said many of Bradwell’s teachers and students also are spreading the word to do what they can to help the Bradwell student athlete.
“This is the first (major) donation project I’ve ever done,” Buck said. “Lucas is 17, he runs track and cross country … he’s one of the healthiest students we have. It’s really mind-blowing someone his age would have cancer. I think that’s why the community has rallied around him so much. It’s such a shock. He literally had surgery one week and they called him the next week and told him he had cancer.”
Rupprecht’s stepfather, Anthony Rios, said his stepson’s cancer is aggressive and fast-growing. Rios said the youth’s health odyssey began on a normal day at his part-time job.
“Lucas was at work one day and his co-worker said, ‘Hey your neck looks a little pulled (swollen) on one side,’” Rios said. “He didn’t know what to think. He didn’t feel any pain at all.”
The teen’s parents took him in for blood work and then were referred to a pediatric specialist who performed a biopsy. When those results came back, Rupprecht and his family were given the sobering diagnosis.
Rios said his stepson’s doctors wasted no time placing the youth on an intensive chemotherapy regimen that typically lasts 17-20 weeks.
“It all feels like one day…non-stop,” Rios said of his family’s new focus.
Buck introduced Rupprecht on her GoEnnounce page as “a 17-year old AP (advanced placement) student aspiring to become a Disney animator.” She writes that the rare form of cancer Rupprecht is fighting “accounts for only two percent of all adult cases of lymphoma cancer globally.”
Burkitt lymphoma is “recognized as the fastest-growing human tumor,” according to webmd.com. If left untreated, this type of cancer is considered “rapidly fatal,” the medical website says. “However, intensive chemotherapy can achieve long-term survival in more than half the people with Burkitt lymphoma,” reports webmd.com.
“This (illness) will affect his life not only financially, but will also take a toll on his hobbies and interests … and becoming enrolled in SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) in the fall,” Buck wrote on her page. “In addition, it will affect his education, as he now has to miss multiple school days to receive treatment. Please help this wonderful family who in no way deserves to be put through this alone. Thank you for anything you can donate.”
As of mid-March, Buck had raised $2,600 through her GoEnnounce page.
Rupprecht, his parents, Anthony and Michelle “Mickey” Rios; his twin brother, Raven; 14-year-old sister, Arianna; and 15-month-old brother, Leo, are Hinesville residents. Rupprecht and his brother have attended Liberty County schools since seventh grade.
Rios said his stepson is in the high school’s hospital homebound program and that Rupprecht likely will start college at SCAD next spring. The Bradwell senior has to avoid crowds at present because his immune system is weakened by both the cancer and the chemotherapy, according to Rios.
Rios said he will speak with local banks, such as Wells Fargo and Navy Federal, about setting up charitable accounts to help pay for his son’s treatment. He added that Bradwell’s PTO also might assist in some way.
“A lot of local people have been stepping up and helping out,” Rios said. “This is going to be (Lucas’) life for a (long) time.”
For more information, go to goennounce.com. Buck’s donation page can be found at: https://www.goennounce.com/missions/view/id/1817.