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Marines step up with college money for ‘strong young woman’

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RELATED: Fight for life puts college out of reach

The Marine Corps came to Lexy Quance’s rescue Monday, awarding her a $10,000 college scholarship that she can renew for three years as long as her grades are good.

That probably won’t be a problem for the 18-year-old, who will graduate from Massaponax High School next month. She’s maintained a 4.0 grade-point average while battling a form of leukemia that usually strikes old men. She had to have a bone marrow transplant in May 2013 to keep the cancer from returning.

Complications ensued, and Lexy spent 42 days in a coma. She was hooked to machines that saved her life, but caused permanent heart, liver and kidney damage.

Still, Lexy remained dedicated to her schoolwork—and her plan to go to college. Whenever she was strong enough to hold a book, she kept up with her studies.

Her mother, Tracey, shared stories of her dedication Monday with officials from the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation in Alexandria.

“You are one strong young woman,” said President and Chief Executive Officer Margaret Davis. “We are so impressed with your strength and courage, your determination and ambition. We know you’re going to do great in college.”

The foundation presented Lexy its highest award. She can renew the scholarship three times, making it worth $40,000, as long as she keeps a 2.0 grade-point average.

Scholarships are given annually to about 2,000 children of Marines and Navy Corpsmen.

Lexy’s father, Jared, served in the Marines from 1996 to 2004. He was an intelligence specialist and “was in all the hot spots you can imagine,” before and after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, said Davis, who examined his service records.

Jared Quance currently holds a similar position with the Coast Guard. Tracey Quance is a registered nurse.

The Marine Corps foundation heard about Lexy’s story from Lani Burnett, a Stafford County woman and member of American Legion Post 290. She works at the Reserve Officers Association in Washington and her boss is Maj. Gen. Drew Davis—husband of Margaret Davis, the scholarship foundation president.

The Quances already have signed up Lexy for her freshman year at Christopher Newport University in Newport News. That’s the school she’s always dreamed of attending.

She wants to major in biology, then complete the physician’s assistant program at Eastern Virginia Medical School. After her medical ordeal, she plans to specialize in pediatric oncology.

In addition to the challenges from medical issues, Lexy also has faced a financial threat to her college plans.

Her parents had set aside money for her education, but her mother had to take off a year of work when Lexy got sick. With the loss of half their income and the addition of medical bills—which totaled more than $40,000 in 2013 alone—the Quances used all their savings and retirement and maxed out their credit cards.

They set up a scholarship page on YouCaring.com (under the name of “Do Not Let Cancer Win”).

With the Marine Corps award, the $11,000 that’s been raised online and a $5,500 loan Lexy got in her name, she has almost enough for her first year, her mother said.

Lexy’s plight was featured in May 9 story in The Free Lance–Star, and the Quances said the response—especially from people they don’t know—has been overwhelming.

As a former military family who never lived close to relatives, the Quances had to fend for themselves, Tracey Quance said. Seeing the way people reacted to her daughter’s story affirmed her faith in her fellow man.

“It really brings you back to the fact that people are good,” she said.

Lexy added: “It’s an amazing feeling to know people care.”

Officials with the University of Mary Washington discussed offering Lexy a four-year academic scholarship.

Scott Ottolini, a physician who works for Fredericksburg Emergency Medical Alliance and staffs the emergency room departments at local hospitals, has offered Lexy a position in a premed scribe program while she attends college. Lexy needs 2,000 hours working with patients before she can attend medical school, and this program fills the bill.

As it turns out, the Quances had met Ottolini before, as he was involved “in a pivotal point in her care,” Tracey Quance recalled.

Ottolini was working in the ER in December 2012, the night that Lexy was sent for blood work and a CAT scan, tests that eventually led to her diagnosis and treatment at VCU Medical Center in Richmond.

Then there are the messages that strangers have posted on the scholarship site, along with donations. They’re similar to this post, from an anonymous donor, who wrote: “You’re the bravest person I’ve ever heard about. Go forth and do great things!”

Cathy Dyson: 540/374-5425

cdyson@freelancestar.com

HOW TO HELP

A fundraising page has been set up for Lexy Quance on YouCaring.com. Search “Do Not Let Cancer Win” to see

her page.

The Alexis Quance Donation Fund has been set up at the Cosner Corner branch of BB&T. Some people reported problems donating to the account at other BB&T branches, but those issues should be corrected, Tracey Quance said.

The address for the Cosner Corner branch, where tellers are aware of the fund, is: BB&T, 9659 Jefferson Davis Highway, Fredericksburg, VA 22407.

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