Judy Richcreek, grandmother of Northeastern Middle School student Hope Westrick, and Victoria Hable, Hope’s cousin, thank students who took part in a
Judy Richcreek, grandmother of Northeastern Middle School student Hope Westrick, and Victoria Hable, Hope's cousin, thank students who took part in a "Pink Out" Wednesday. (John A. Pavoncello — jpavoncello@yorkdispatch.com)

Students at Northeastern Middle School had only a few weeks to form friendships with classmate Hope Westrick.

Hope, 12, moved into the district just a few days before winter break, and in January the seventh-grader was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer.

But despite her short time at the school, Hope's classmates immediately started efforts to support her and her family.

On Wednesday more than 200 students from the middle school gathered for a pep rally in Hope's honor and to present Hope's grandmother with a check for more than $1,500.

The rally and fundraiser was organized by the Friends of Rachel club, which promotes kindness and compassion in the school and hosted the "pink out day" to support Hope.

Supporting Hope: Seventh-grader Tucker Haas designed the bright pink T-shirts many students wore, with "Team Hope" on the front. Tucker said his own five-year battle with cancer starting when he was 2 inspired him to support Hope's family, because he knows how many people helped his family along the way.

"As soon as I found out, I hopped on it," Tucker said. "It was good for me to see people believe in someone else."

Tucker's classmates, including Micaela Bradley, Sam Sidle and Matthew Murry, helped to sell the shirts and wristbands as part of the fundraiser.

They also created videos to cheer Hope up during her chemotherapy treatments.

"She's just astonished about everything," Hope's grandmother, Judy Richcreek, said of her granddaughter's reaction.

Richcreek accepted the donated funds on behalf of Hope and her parents, Robert and Nicole Maldonado.

"I just want to thank you from the bottom of my heart," Richcreek told the seventh- and eighth-graders who gathered in the gym Wednesday.

Richcreek said Hope started her fifth round of chemotherapy Wednesday morning.

Continuing treatment: At the time of diagnosis in January, Hope had cancer behind her eye and in her shoulders, wrists, knees, ankles and lungs, Richcreek said.

Northeastern Middle School students hold up letters to spell "Go Team Hope" as they take part in a "Pink Out" Wednesday for fellow
Northeastern Middle School students hold up letters to spell "Go Team Hope" as they take part in a "Pink Out" Wednesday for fellow student Hope Westrick, a 12-year-old seventh-grader who is battling cancer. (John A. Pavencello - jpavancello@yorkdispatch.com)

There is a reason to be encouraged, said Hope's cousin Victoria Hable.

After Hope's first bone scan a few weeks ago, there are signs some of the cancer clusters in her body are shrinking.

But the seventh-grader still has a long way to go: Richcreek said Hope is expecting to receive chemotherapy for the next several months.

The funds will go first to Vickie's Angel Foundation, a nonprofit organization in central Pennsylvania that helps families with financial needs during cancer treatments.

All of the money raised from the school will then go to Hope's family.

Richcreek said Hope's appreciation for the support is followed immediately by wanting to give back. If she had her way, Richcreek said, she would use the money to host a big party in the middle school to thank everyone who has reached out to her.

"She loves the gifts," Richcreek said. "But she's a giver."