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Skyline second grader fighting life-threatening cancer gets emotional and financial support from community

Published: Sep. 10, 2021 at 7:55 PM CDT
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URBANA, Mo. (KY3) - It’s every parent’s worst nightmare to have their child suddenly dealing with a life-threatening disease.

On Friday, at the Skyline High School complex gym, the community gathered together to show its support for a second grade student whose life changed in the blink of an eye.

Skyline students from grades K-12 packed the gym in what looked like a pep rally for that night’s football showdown between the Tigers and Fair Grove.

But as you looked on the walls of the gym and saw signs that said, “We love Lyndsey”, “Fight like a Girl”, “Let’s tackle cancer” and “Here for Lyndsey”, you could surmise that this wasn’t about a football game.

No, the star of the show turned out to be eight year-old Lyndsey Morales, and the student body was there to show their support for the second grader because her world has turned upside down in a matter of three months.

In June after her family had just moved to the area Lyndsey was a healthy young girl until she started complaining to her mom Erin about her side hurting.

“I felt this knot underneath her rib cage,” Erin recalled.

A series of hospital tests would confirm that Lyndsey had Stage IV kidney cancer, meaning that the cancer has grown outside of the kidney and possibly spread to other parts of her body.

Lyndsey would have one kidney removed and start once-a-week chemotherapy treatments for 21 weeks which she was still undergoing when she got even worse news.

“They found spots on her lungs,” said Skyline Elementary Principal Jason Pursley. “So she is having surgery on Monday. They’re going to go in there and see what the spots are. If it happens to be cancer she’ll go to an every-day chemo.”

“It is a nightmare scenario,” Erin said.

Lyndsey is well aware of her situation but described it in a very straightforward way.

“The only thing I know that’s changed is that I have to go to the hospital more than I used to,” she said.

“We can’t change that fact,” Pursley said. “But we can change what she sees every day in her life right now.”

So that’s why they had the assembly. Lyndsey’s favorite character, a live-action Elsa from the movie Frozen, made an appearance to sing “Let It Go” while Lyndsey danced and sang along.

Lyndsey then got to throw a pie in the face of the girls high school head basketball coach Kevin Cheek. And then a group of people including Pursley and some members of the Skyline football team stepped forward to get their heads shaved in a show of solidarity with Lyndsey, whose hair is gone because of the chemo treatments. In one of the more touching moments of the assembly several members of the Tigers Friday night opponent, Fair Grove, made the 34-mile trip to get their heads shaved as well. They would then drive back to Fair Grove and turn around five hours later to return to Skyline to play the game.

“We want to come support the community and make sure they know we’re here for them,” said Lucas Crutcher, a member of the Fair Grove football team. “They might be a rival during the game but outside of football we’re here for them. We’ve had stuff like this happen in our community as well so it meant a lot to me that the school was willing to do something like this.”

“There ain’t nobody on our team that’s that tough,” added Skyline football player Jaytin DeFreece about Lyndsey’s resolve. “Everybody’s asking me why I want to do this. I just say that this little girl looks around at all the other girls with flowing hair and she’s wondering ‘why me’? So if I can do anything to support her I’m going to do it.”

“Football is just a game but hers is the game of life,” said Pursley. “She’s a lot tougher than they are and I think they know that.”

As Lyndsey went into her classroom after the assembly she picked up a stuffed monkey that is named “Monkey In My Seat” because it’s her replacement when she doesn’t feel well enough to go to school.

“When she’s not here the classroom can take her (the monkey) places with them like lunch, playground or the gym,” Erin said. “And the monkey’s got a little bag that her classmates can put notes in and send Lyndsey their pictures with the monkey.”

Another big part of the support has been financial as the K-12 student body of just 700 students has raised over $20,000 in just two weeks to help defray the medical costs.

Lyndsey would prefer to use the money for other things.

“A horse, stuff for the horse and baby doll clothes,” she said with a smile.

But that financial outpouring is just another great example of how the community cares.

“I know people who probably can’t afford it sending everything they had,” Pursley said.

“The only thing I actually started out asking for was prayers,” Erin said. “And this is what it’s become.”

A lot of money donated, bald heads, missing hair and yes, a lot of prayers too.

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