School hosts ‘Community Support Day’ for 8th grader battling cancer

Friends surround Abigail during the final prayer during "Community Support Day" at Norwell Middle School.

OSSIAN, Ind. (WANE) A community showed support for an 8th grader battling cancer Friday.

Abigail Robertson Dugan was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, rare for her age, after being in a car crash. She went under the knife and had chemo therapy treatments.

“To put it into words what its like to deal with this is hard,” Dugan said. “It takes a lot out of a person.”

After missing time in class, she returned to Norwell Middle School for “Community Support Day,” a pep rally of sorts celebrating Abigail and motivating her through her fight.

Abigail stands by her mom and thanks students and members of the community.

“It was shocking I didn’t expect it at all,” Dugan added. “It was a lot.”

The show of support can be traced back to a facebook video, by a friend’s mom, who remembered losing a classmate to leukemia when she was in school.

“I just thought I was making a video, with my son in my basement, I felt a burden and felt led to help,” Cathie Peterson said looking around a packed gym. “I didn’t know this was going to happen.”

The video was shared around the community, encouraging people to donate about $22,000 for Abigail and her family.

The day was not just about money, Cathie told the students in attendance about the power of social media and how it can be used for good. Her son, Jacob, got a haircut during the assembly has a sign of support for Abigail.

“His heart was really softened and a conversation developed, so it was neat to see him to sacrifice too,” Cathie added.

Group after group followed Cathie’s presentation talking to Abigail and presenting donations of $9,000 additional dollars raised in things like bracelet sales, basketball game raffles, a candy cane fundraiser, a “Pink Day” during a book fair and straight donations.

The shows of support came from Bluffton schools, Belmont Middle School, Lancaster Elementary, Norwell’s dodgeball tournament champions, Norwell’s girls basketball team and Norwell staff.

Representatives from the Bluffton school family hug Abigail after presenting a $2,000 donation.

“I can’t put into to words how thankful I am that this community has reached out and showed my daughter that she’s got this,” Abagail’s mom April Hinshaw said emotionally. “And God’s got this and we’re going to fight this cancer and we are going to win.”

The day started and ended with prayers. Abigail was surrounded by friends during the final words of the assembly.

“I think what keeps me going is the support and the prayers and just knowing that God is there and he’s got this,” Abigail said.

Abigail faces biopsies on her other ovary and bladder. She will also return to chemo therapy. She hopes to be back in school by February.