Cheerleaders’ fundraiser will aid family of former teammate

Anna Ramirez, a Fruitland High School graduate, died Saturday; she was being treated for stage four epithelioid hemangioendothelioma, a rare tumor. Proceeds from the Fruitland cheerleaders’ annual Jump-for-a-Cure benefit during the varsity boys basketball game Tuesday will go to Ramirez’s family for funeral expenses and medical costs for treatment.

FRUITLAND — Anna Ramirez was hospitalized at St. Luke’s in Boise while her friends were rallying in her support at home.

The Fruitland High School graduate died Saturday morning, but a benefit planned for Tuesday will still go on.

“The whole night will be in memory of Anna,” Hayley Schlager, who organized several fundraisers for her friend, said.

Tuesday’s benefit is an annual event that has come full circle for Ramirez, a former member of Fruitland High School’s cheerleading squad.

Each year the team hosts a Jump-for-the-Cure pledge-based event to raise money to fight cancer. Typically the money goes to the American Cancer Society, but the money raised Tuesday will go to Ramirez’s family.

“Everyone will greatly miss Anna — her amazing smile, her ability to make everyone laugh for hours.” Schlager said. “She had such a good personality.”

Ramirez recently was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, Schlager said.

Epithelioid hemangioendothelioma is a tumor that starts in a person’s blood vessels, according to information from Boston Children’s Hospital. It is so rare that it is not well understood, according to the hospital.

The Jump-a-Thon will take place at halftime of the boys varsity basketball game Tuesday, Schlager said.

Current team members and alumni cheerleaders will take pledges, then do cheer jumps for a full minute at halftime, cheer coach Tanya Ward said.

“If they get tired, they’re encouraged to kick. The goal is to keep moving for a minute,” Ward said.

Alumni who can’t or don’t wish to jump  will be on the floor cheering on their teammates, she said. At the end of the minute, the cheerleaders and alumni will go through the stands to collect pledges and donations.

All proceeds will go to Ramirez’s family for her funeral expenses and medical bills, Schlager said.

To further support Ramirez, Fruitland High staff members, students and cheerleaders will be wearing purple shirts bearing the fundraising campaign logo, FOR ANNA. Shirts and bracelets will be available for purchase at the game, Schlager said.

Though details weren’t available at press time, Schlager is trying to organize a candle lighting ceremony for Ramirez after the game.

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