Hats off to Olivia: PV community rallies behind one of its own

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Hats off to Olivia: PV community rallies behind one of its own

Olivia Lux plays in her crib at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital.

Olivia Lux plays in her crib at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital.

Tracy Lux

Olivia Lux plays in her crib at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital.

Tracy Lux

Tracy Lux

Olivia Lux plays in her crib at the University of Iowa Stead Family Children's Hospital.

Maria Vaaler, Student Life Editor

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The Pleasant Valley School District is no stranger to coming together to support members of the community facing immense hardships. And the recent cancer diagnosis of high school English teacher Tracy Lux’s 11-month-old daughter, Olivia, is no exception.

Olivia Waytenick was diagnosed with an incredibly rare and aggressive form of acute lymphoblastic leukemia on Oct. 23, 2019. The form of leukemia is made all the more rare and difficult to treat due to her infancy. Though her doctors are not sure how her regimen will unfold due to her young age, they are hopeful that her chemotherapy treatments will be successful.

For Olivia and her family, the road ahead is long as they embark on a two-year treatment plan at University of Iowa’s Stead Family Children’s Hospital. But even in the darkness of this difficult journey, there is light.

“She has an amazing team of doctors and nurses and other specialists here at Stead. We currently have a great view of Kinnick Stadium and have adjusted to staying on the 11th floor of the hospital,” Lux said. “When she’s happy, she’s still playing like she should, and we treasure those rare moments.”

Though Olivia’s official diagnosis was only two weeks ago, the Pleasant Valley community is already pulling together to show support for the family.

Senior Maddie Einck, one of Tracy Lux’s students, said students were initially shocked when they heard about her daughter’s diagnosis as they hadn’t quite realized the seriousness of the situation. 

“After we got over the shock, we all came together to be supportive of Ms. Lux and her family. We’ve made cards to send to her and hopefully help them feel a little better and remind them that we’re all there for them and thinking of them,” she said.

Tracy Lux’s students are not the only ones coming together to support the Lux family during this trying time. High School instructional coach Stacie Giesecke organized a hat day at the high school in order to raise funds to support the Lux family. On hat day, students brought in donations to their first period classes and were given stickers in return, allowing them to wear their hats in school for the day. 

Gieseke said hat day was selected as a way for students to learn about the situation and be involved in supporting the family. “The hope is that we can get people personally involved even if they don’t know the family personally,” Giesecke said.

Tracy Lux will be missed by students and colleagues as she takes a leave of absence for the school year in order to focus her time and energy on Olivia. Their stay at the hospital and the long recovery beyond will include many blood transfusions, hours of work with nutritionists and physical therapists and rounds of chemotherapy drugs. 

And support of any sort, whether it be sending messages or going so far as to donate blood, will help them to stay strong during this journey.

Though no one quite knows the challenges Olivia and her family will face, the community is invested in their well being. “Everyone is hoping for the best and many are doing what they can to support [the family], such as the hat day, which ultimately brought us together,” Einck said.