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Warwick community rallies to support girl battling illness

Students at Toll Gate High School come together to help a student battling a disease.{ } (WJAR)
Students at Toll Gate High School come together to help a student battling a disease. (WJAR)
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A 16-year-old girl from Toll Gate High School faced some bad news this week. She was diagnosed with a life-threatening blood infection.

Pilgrim and Toll Gate high schools held a purple-themed soccer game for Gianna Cirella last week, and on Sunday night, hundreds of dollars were donated and classmates gave their own blood to help their friend get better.

"Gianna is a beautiful, strong, brave girl," said Stephanie Bucci, Toll Gate High School assistant soccer coach.

This brave girl won't have to battle this life-threatening blood infection alone.

"Kids are donating blood," said Lonna Rozza, Toll Gate High School soccer coach. "Some of them have never donated before. it's just absolutely amazing. It's amazing."

Cirella has pneumonia in both lungs and an infected blood stream. The goalie on the Toll Gate soccer team is now fighting to get better.

Over the weekend, more than 100 people give their own blood in hopes that Cirella will get what she needs.

"It's just something really nice to see," said Bucci.

Students folded 1,000 paper cranes. Japanese legend says 1,000 origami cranes can be exchanged for one wish. Their wish is that their friend will get well and soon.

"Once we found out, our hearts just broke for her," said Paul Silva, Papa's Ice Cream owner.

By nightfall, there was a line of giving hearts: a fundraiser at local ice cream and pizza shop, where both places donated some of their profits to help Cirella's family through tough times.

"Our goal is whatever we can give her," said Silva.

Toll Gate's next game is Tuesday. The team is hoping to show their teammate support, and they're hoping for their first win of the season.

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