Recent Tippecanoe Valley grad getting support from back home as he fights cancer

Updated: May. 14, 2021 at 5:08 PM EDT
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AKRON, Ind. (WNDU) - A 2020 graduate from Tippecanoe Valley High School is battling a type of blood cancer only found in roughly 3,000 people under 20-years-old every year.

Friends of the family set up a gofundme page to support the family of Alex Santiago.

16 News Now tells us how they’re also drawing strength from Alex’s former school.

While those gofundme donations are pouring in, the folks here at the Tippecanoe Valley High School have also been doing some fundraising of their own. When 16 News Now spoke with Alex and his mother, they talked about how important this support is for his fight.

‘Once a Viking, always a Viking,’ is not just something they say at Tippecanoe Valley High School, but it’s what’s written on the shirts faculty members wear to support Alex Santiago.

Nearly a year after graduating as a Viking in 2020, Alex learned he had acute lymphocytic leukemia on April 20th.

“He was sedated and put into a coma for about two and a half to three weeks. About a week ago he woke up. Things started to look better,” said Alex’s mother April Santiago.

Alex wasn’t feeling too well the day we spoke with him, so he didn’t speak on camera, but we did get to see him for a brief moment.

April said the support he’s getting from the community goes a long way.

“Yesterday when I talked to him he really wanted to talk to you guys, and talk to everybody, and tell everybody how much he appreciated it. How much he loves everyone and how much the school and everybody is doing for us,” she said.

Some of Alex’s former teachers got together to raise nearly $2,000 for the Santiago’s.

“We decided of course to put ‘Once a Viking. Always a Viking,’ on there because Alex is such an important part of our school even though he’s not here right now,” said TVHS teacher Cami Shriver.

Proving that motto isn’t just something you say, but something you do.

“If you live in this town, you’re part of a family. You’re not just a number on the map. You’re part of that family. They’re just amazing people with big hearts,” April said.

The gofundme page already has more than $5,000 in donations.

The Santiago’s are also participating in the city-wide yard sale, with all proceeds going toward paying for expenses.

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