Annabelle Grace Bartel, also known as “AG” to many, might be a name you recognize by the hashtag #AGTough. While a student at Bear Creek Elementary, she was diagnosed with osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer that caused her to have surgeries and be in and out of the hospital throughout elementary school.
Her scans have been clear for the past three years, but this August, doctors found two spots on her lung. Fortunately, although the spots were found to be cancerous, the surgeons were able to remove them with clear margins, and Bartel is cancer-free for a second time.
Throughout her journey with cancer, her family recalls how her school and the district rallied around her to share the strength of the GCISD family with her. To help Bartel feel surrounded by love and healing, GCISD has gathered around her a second time in various ways. The former elementary school that helped her during her first diagnosis, Bear Creek, surprised the family with the “#AGTough” logo on their school marquee to welcome her home from surgery, as she lives near the school.
She now attends Heritage Middle School, and her friends, the administration, and the staff continue to show how they are #AGTough. For picture day, HMS staff wore purple, Bartel’s favorite color, and #AGTough shirts to show their support. These pictures will be in the yearbook for Bartel to reflect on for years to come and see how her schools love her.
"We are so proud of her strength and fight,” HMS Principal Sheila Shimmick said. “She is definitely ‘AG tough,’ and we are all with her."
Another way GCISD rallied around the Bartel family was through "purple out" games for both football and volleyball. Bartel is a cheerleader and the volleyball manager, so she saw only purple for two after-school events. Fans from HMS and the away team donned purple and helped AG feel welcomed after her surgery.
“The support from HMS and GCISD has meant so much to me and my family,” AG Bartel said. “Battling cancer is hard, but knowing I’m surrounded by so many friends, teachers, staff and coaches who are fighting with me keeps me living while I’m fighting. Thank you for showing our family so much love and support.”