Clover High School junior Alex Lamparter, 16, was an inspiration to her school and her community during her battle against bone cancer.
She lost that battle late Monday, when she died. But friends and school officials said that inspiration lives on in their memories of her.
“Alex touched my life and made me realize how she is such an inspiration through her fight,” said friend and neighbor Natalie Daczkowski, 22. “She went through hell and back, and didn’t give up. She taught me don’t give up.”
Alex’s parents, Dorit and George Lamparter of Lake Wylie, said Tuesday that their daughter was a pillar of stregnth.
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“She was a girl who never complained about what she was going through,” said Dorit Lamparter. “She fought to the end.”
Just a month ago, Dorit said, they were working out together at the gym. When they learned her cancer had spread, Alex didn’t let it break her stride.
After a hospital blood transfusion, Dorit said, she was released and within an hour she was on her way to the Dream on 3 Gala at The Ritz-Carlton in Charlotte.
“She knew she was sick. She knew she was dying. Even to the end, she was still herself,” George Lamparter said. “Now is the hard part, going on without her. She was our rock.”
Clover High graduate Maggie Keefe, 19, now a student at Midlands Technical College in Columbia, said she met Alex in 2012, when Keefe had to take a physical education class to graduate.
Keefe said she felt out of place as a senior in the class, but that Alex invited her to sit with her as a friend. “She was nice and very funny. She was the first person to try to make you laugh,” Keefe said.
Keefe said she visited Alex a couple of weeks ago, and said she looked good and was in good spirits. “She didn’t take pity on herself. She wanted to fight it and beat it,” Keefe said. “She’s a true hero.”
School district spokesman Mychal Frost said extra counselors will be at Clover High when classes resume to provide support to students and staff.
“In her yearlong fight, Alex inspired many in her school community and beyond to achieve in spite of insurmountable adversity,” Frost said.
Alex, who played soccer at Clover High, was diagnosed in January 2014 with Ewings sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer that primarily affects teens and young adults.
The Lake Wylie community has organized a Friday night fitness expo at four locations, including the Lake Wylie YMCA, to benefit the Lamparter family.
Daczkowski said Alex was the first friend she made after moving to Lake Wylie in 2009. Despite a six-year age difference, the two made a connection through one of Alex’s favorite sports, soccer.
Daczkowski said that, like the athlete Alex was, she would “never give up, never see her defeated.” That included her diagnosis.
“Through her whole process of diagnosis to the fight, she always had a smile on her face,” Daczkowski said. “You could never tell her fear, worry, pain.”
Clover High School Principal Mark Hopkins said he was impressed at Alex’s enthusiasm and dedication to her academics in spite of her illness.
She was an AP-level student, he said, and had remained in the top 6 percent of her graduating class.
“First, my heart goes out to Alex’s family,” Hopkins said. “She was an inspiration to our school and community. Her strength, perseverance and positive attitude throughout her illness serve as an example to us all.”
Hopkins added: “I hope her memory lives through all of us in terms of how we handle the challenges we face.”
Daczkowski said one of her favorite memories with Alex is going to lunch after the diagnosis “and getting to know the woman she is.”
Daczkowski said Alex was strong in her faith, and attended All Saints Catholic Church. “She knew where she was going,” she said. “She had great faith in God.”
Daczkowski said Alex kept true to to the mission of “always giving to others instead of receiving,” and that she was more worried about her family.
Keefe said an image that continues to run through her mind is of Alex as the last person standing during a dodge ball game. “She was getting pummeled,” Keefe said, adding that Alex was smiling the whole time.
Keefe said during the class they shared, sometimes Alex would sit out because her hip hurt, blaming it on soccer, but it was later learned it was due to the cancer.
“After I graduated, she was diagnosed,” Keefe said. “It was mind blowing.”
Hopkins said Alex had worked on her classes, both at home and at school, last fall. She did not return to school after the winter holidays.
In September 2014, Charlotte-based Dream on 3 surprised Alex at halftime of a Blue Eagles football game by announcing she and her family would depart the following morning for New York City where they would attend a New York Jets game and meet players.
“Thank God she got her wish,” her father said.
In recent weeks, Frost said, students at Clover High School have led efforts to show Alex that “no one fights alone” by hosting a blood drive, a prayer rally, and other events. The family will be at the fitness expo benefit planned Friday at four locations in Lake Wylie.
“We want to thank the Lake Wylie and Clover communities and those who have given so much love and support,” George Lamparter said. “I’m really speechless.”
Earlier this month, Hopkins and Clover School District Superintendent Marc Sosne visited Alex at her home to present her high school diploma.
In the last few weeks, hundreds of people visited with Alex, her parents said.
“Every time I think of her, it still puts a smile on my face,” her father said.
A memorial service will be 11 a.m. Saturday at All Saints Catholic Church with Father Ed McDevit officiating. The family will receive friends following the service.
She is survived by her parents; two brothers, George and Chris Lamparter, both of Lake Wylie; maternal grandparents, Jacob and Jacqueline Sharon of Lake Wylie; paternal grandmother, Marie Lamparter of Lake Wylie.