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Wrestling team supports student battling rare cancer

A high school wrestling team is among those lending support and helping to raise funds on behalf of a fifth grader battling a rare form of brain cancer.

The Raiders wrestling program at Williamsburg Jr.-Sr. High School just west of Iowa City posted a one-minute video on its Facebook page in support of Tate Schaefer, a Williamsburg 5th grader who has been diagnosed with DIPG, a form of cancer found in the brain stem of approximately 300 young people each year.

The video has been viewed approximately 5,000 times.

Darcy Schaefer, Tate's mom shared her support of the video on Twitter: "You know no one can mess with you when you have the Raider wrestling team on your side. Coach Eckenrod, Coaches, & Wrestlers - this meant the world to our family and Tate, who looks up to all of you. Go Raiders!"

In addition to the video produced by the Williamsburg Raider wrestling squad, Tate Schaefer and his family are receiving considerable support from the local community and beyond.

If you're in Iowa -- or are up for a road trip (Williamsburg is just off I-80, the interstate that connects New York and California) -- you can participate in a "TaterTough" fundraising event on Saturday, Jan. 19 from 4-8 p.m. at the Williamsburg Recreation Center at 939 Highland St. in Williamsburg. According to the event's Facebook page, this family-friendly event will feature food, TaterTough merchandise for sale, silent and live auctions and activities for kids.

Not able to make it to Williamsburg in person? A GoFundMe page has been established "to help Tate and his family through this battle. Please help us raise money that the Schaefer's can use to make memories and take trips as a family, support Tate and his health needs or anything else that may come up throughout this journey."

According to the Schaefer family, Tate had been suffering from blurred vision, loss of coordination and balance and other issues. He was taken to the emergency room at University of Iowa Hospitals, and admitted to Children's Hospital, where he was examined.

"At that time, we were told that Tate had a tumor on his brain stem and was diagnosed with DIPG and his tumor is inoperable..."

What is DIPG?

According to the website for Dana-Farber Cancer Center at Boston Children's Hospital, "Diffuse intrinsic pontine gliomas (DIPG) are highly aggressive and difficult to treat brain tumors found at the base of the brain..."

"Diffuse intrinsic pontine gliomas account for 10 percent of all childhood central nervous system tumors. Approximately 300 children in the U.S. are diagnosed with DIPG each year. While DIPGs are usually diagnosed when children are between the ages of 5 and 9, they can occur at any age in childhood. These tumors occur in boys and girls equally and do not generally appear in adults."

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