Kickapoo High School rallies around senior fighting rare disease

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Students and staff at Kickapoo High School are rallying around a student who is battling a rare medical condition. Signs of support for Autumn Pilarski are all over KHS.

"She's always encouraging us, so now we're sticking behind her," said Meagan Good, a friend of Autumn.

Autumn is a senior and a member of FBLA and the National Honor Society. Autumn is a serious student who friends say always puts others before herself.

"She's always striving in her schoolwork. She puts her schoolwork before anything else," Good said. "This fall, I always was dragging her to football games; she would rather, like, study for science Olympiad or study for FBLA or do some homework, but I would always drag her to the football games and she'd end up having a good time. So she always is there to go support others, so it's fun to be here and get to support her."

When Autumn originally traveled to Memphis, Tenn., for medical care, she was at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital for what doctors believed to be cancer. However, Autumn is actually fighting a rare auto-immune disease, granulomatosis with polyangitis and vasculitis, otherwise known as Wegener’s Granulomatosis. The condition is especially rare for a female of Autumn's age.

After cancer was ruled out as a diagnosis, Autumn was transferred to Le Bonheur's Children's Hospital. However, shortly after, Autumn turned critical and is now on life support.

As Autumn's parents remain by her side in the hospital, the Kickapoo community rallies behind her.

"During football season or whatever, everybody gets involved in football, everybody goes to the games," said senior Tim Cobb. "During basketball, everybody's just, like, 'Whoo, basketball, yeah!' So now when there's a new challenge arising, like Autumn facing her issues, it's just, like, 'we have an opportunity to do something good.'"

This week is "Autumn Week" at Kickapoo, a different theme every day. T-shirts will be on sale at lunch time, with proceeds benefiting Autumn and her family. In March, the academic team's Trivia Night will also raise money for Autumn.

"It's not just our club that's doing something. It's NHS, it's FBLA, it's HOSA," Cobb said. "Every single club is doing something to help her and it's really cool."

"It's remarkable to know that somebody who is not necessarily a basketball player or a volleyball player, track star, is being appreciated and people are getting behind her for this," said Good.

Meagan was able to visit Autumn in the hospital before she took a turn for the worse. She says the support back home means the world to Autumn's family.

"Her mom didn't believe me," she said. "She truly said, 'You're making it up!' And I said, 'No, I can't make something like that up!' So I think her family would say thank you to everybody."

If you would like to buy a "Stand up For Autumn" t-shirt for $10, contact the Kickapoo main office at (417) 523-8500.

If you would like to participate in the academic team's Trivia Night, benefiting Autumn, it is $10 a person and teams must have eight members. The event will be on March 3.

The Kickapoo boys basketball team will also be taking donations at their game on Friday, Jan. 27.

You can also donate to a fund at Oak Star Bank set up by one of Autumn's teachers. To donate, make a check out to "Stand Up for Autumn Pilarski".

Autumn's parents also encourage anyone who can to donate blood, as Autumn has had several transfusions already.

For more information on that fund, or any of the other fundraisers going on at Kickapoo High School, contact Mr. Lynn Coffey at lcoffey@spsmail.org

For updates on Autumn's condition, visit the Facebook page run by her parents.