SOUTHINGTON — Members of Southington High School’s cross country team are rallying in support of one of their fellow runners receiving treatment for leukemia.
“It shouldn’t happen to anyone, but it shouldn’t happen to anyone so young with so much potential,” Julia Michnowicz, 16, said of her teammate, Hannah Sousa.
When she heard of Sousa’s diagnosis, Michnowicz decided to put her passion for calligraphy to use and began selling cards to raise money for treatment.
“I knew I wanted to do something to help her,” said Michnowicz, a junior.
She set a goal of $500 by May 1 and has already raised about $200. She now hopes to raise at least $1,000 by the end of the month.
“Right away I got messages from people all over the community,” she said. “It’s heartwarming to see how much people care.”
Michnowicz described Sousa as quiet, but added “once you get to know her she’s an absolutely beautiful person.”
“She’s a quiet girl who is kind and loving and warm to everyone she meets,” said Mary-Beth Sousa, Hannah Sousa’s mother.
“As quiet as she is, she’s also a fighter,” she said.
Mary-Beth Sousa said her family has received an outpouring of support, including from friends and co-workers.
“It’s just amazing, everyone’s done a lot for us,” she said. “We’re just kind of overwhelmed by all the support.”
Her daughter’s soccer team, Foundation Soccer, has raised money and created a Kudoboard, an online video get-well card.
“It was really, really touching,” Mary Beth Sousa said. “It brought tears to the whole family’s eyes.”
Mary-Beth Sousa, a teacher in Farmington, said her co-workers prepared a meal for her family and parents of her daughter’s friends are organizing a benefit dinner.
Teammates and friends have flowed into their home and the hospital to visit.
“The daily visits from friends have been what have kept her spirits up,” Mary-Beth Sousa said.
Cross country coach Dan Dachelet said another member of the team is selling bracelets to raise money.
“We take care of our own,” he said.
“Hannah worked extremely hard and found success in track and cross country,” added track and cross country coach Connor Green.
Hannah Sousa’s determination has also been evident since her diagnosis on Dec. 31.
“She had run in a track meet...and then two days later she was diagnosed with leukemia,” Mary-Beth Sousa said.
After hearing her complaints of severe leg pain, she took her daughter to the hospital.
“They were pretty amazed she had just run in a track meet days before...she’s a fighter,” Mary-Beth Sousa said. “Even her doctors are amazed by how well she’s doing.”