Sunset students plan tribute for classmate who died of cancer - KPTV - FOX 12

Sunset students plan tribute for classmate who died of cancer

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Nathalie Traller Nathalie Traller
BEAVERTON, OR (KPTV) -

Students at Sunset High School found out on Tuesday that their classmate, 16-year-old Nathalie Traller, had passed away, after a three-year fight with a rare form of cancer.

Doctors diagnosed Traller with alveolar soft part sarcoma, or ASPS, in 2012.  Her parents fought to get her access to the latest drug trials, but had difficulties because she was under 18.  They produced a YouTube video, asking drug manufacturers to consider her case, and eventually got the medication.

Traller’s principal, John Huelskamp said she was determined to attend school, despite eight separate surgeries, and frequent pain and discomfort.

“She had just a spirit and a drive that was absolutely not only inspiring, but also contagious,” said Huelskamp.

After Traller’s death, her fellow students set about looking for a way to honor her life.  They decided on Friday night’s football game against Beaverton as a stage, with all the students in attendance wearing purple, Traller’s favorite color.

“Nathalie touched so many people in such a positive way,” said Sarah Blair, Sunset’s Student Body Vice President. “She’s done more in 16 years than most of us will in an entire lifetime.”

Blair decided to take the tribute a step further, contacting her counterpart at Beaverton High School, Friday’s opponent, who also happened to be a childhood friend, asking if students there might consider taking part. Purple also happens to be the Sunset Apollos’ school color.

“We were kind of nervous what students would think, playing Sunset, it’s a Purple-Out but everyone was really supportive,” said Beaverton’s Student Body VP Ken Cavanaugh. “I think this is bigger than rivalries. This is bigger than a school.”

Through social media, the campaign spread to other schools in the league.  Jesuit and Westview students also committed to wearing purple, and asked their opponents to do the same.

“I think it is just an absolute lesson for us as adults,” said Huelskamp. “They know our students are hurting.  And this is a gesture they are choosing to make to say, hey,  we feel your pain, and we care about you.  And it’s really a beautiful thing.”

Traller’s classmates will also be taking donations at the football game to raise money for ASPS research.

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