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Excited and happy, Alexa Whipple returns to Sheffield

Sheffield freshman Alexa Whipple smiles while entering the Ralph J. Santo gymnasium for the game between Sheffield and Eisenhower, Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2020. Whipple made her first appearance in the gym since returning from a nearly month-long hospitalization. She was injured as a passenger in an automobile accident Dec. 15.

For nearly a month now, Warren County has been sending well-wishes, words of encouragement, gifts and support to Sheffield freshman Alexa Whipple after she was injured as a passenger in an automobile accident in December.

On Wednesday, the community got to show its support in person as Whipple returned to the Ralph J. Santo gymnasium for the boys basketball game between Sheffield and Eisenhower. The Wolverines presented her with flowers and a small gift at midcourt prior to the game.

“I’m just overwhelmed,” Whipple, who is a member of the Lady Wolverines basketball team, said. “I’m excited. Happy to see friends. (Tonight) has been a good experience.”

Whipple first arrived during halftime of the junior varsity game. A spectator yelled, “It’s Alexa!” and the crowd rose to its feet with applause as they realized who they were seeing. The fans, it seemed, were almost as happy to see her as she was to see them.

The accident, which occurred Dec. 15, left two people dead and Whipple in an intensive care unit. The outpouring of support began almost immediately.

GoFundMe pages were established, people sent their support through social media and Sheffield girls basketball coaches Tony Richards and DJ Rose created shirts for not only their teams, but Kane’s boys and girls and the other Warren County teams as well. “#22Strong” and “Beastmode” became the rallying cries. And the shirts, which read, “We are stronger together” have been worn by Warren County’s basketball teams since Christmas.

“I’ve been extremely impressed with the way the county came together,” Whipple said. “It’s been crazy.”

Whipple, who just returned home from the hospital Tuesday, said the messages and phone calls helped immensely during her stay.

“It lifted my spirits a lot,” she said. “People would talk to me when I was upset about things and they told me to be strong.”

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