This Hits Different, Episode 63: Hampton community backing soccer player with rare disorder

Shelby Cassesse tells the story of Lucy Interthal, a soccer player at Hampton battling CIDP

In today’s episode of This Hits Different, Shelby Cassesse tells the story of Lucy Interthal, a soccer player at Hampton who has had her team and community come to her defense after being diagnosed with a rare disorder.

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Lucy Interthal had a full schedule last May. The end of her junior year at Hampton, prom, AP testing, a recent commitment to play soccer for Gettysburg. So when her feet started to tingle, her parents Dave and Beth just thought she needed to catch her breath.

“We went to her pediatrician,” Beth says. “We talked about anxiety. Maybe she's stressed. There's a lot on our plate right now, that would make sense.”

But a few weeks later in school, Lucy says the tingling started in her hands.

“The day of my AP test for English, I was writing, and my hand went numb, and I couldn't write anymore,” she says.

She was diagnosed with CIDP, a rare disorder mostly found in men older than 50 that targets the body's nerves. The prognosis is good, but Dave says despite seemingly endless trips to specialists and procedures, so far the treatments haven't quite been the answer.

“They said that she's going to heal herself from the inside out,” he ays. “It's still going to take a little bit of time, but it has been hard.”

As her senior year started this fall, she transitioned to life in a wheelchair, moving from her room to her parents basement, and online schooling.

She did all of it with her head held high.

“You kind of have to, because if you don't, then I just be sitting in my room, sad,” she says. “I see friends all the time. I see my family. I do everything that I can, like go out to soccer games and go out and see people. It's been good. It's been hard.”

But Beth admits there was one point that was pretty tough for the whole family.

Lucy's younger sister Molly is a freshman on the Hampton soccer team this season. For years, the girls looked forward to the season they'd get to play together.

“The first scrimmage, and she came home, we couldn't find Lucy, and she was in the basement, in the game room, and she just was crying<‘ Beth says. “And rightfully so.”

Though this wasn't the season they envisioned, the Interhals have made it their own, using soccer to create new traditions like post-game chats in the basement.

“Lucy and Molly go over the whole game, talk about the game, laugh about the game, talk about everything,” Beth says. “And Dave and I would sit down here with them, and it was like their time together.”

Lucy says those talks, and each sister facing their own adversity, has led that is somehow even tighter than before.

“We've always been close, but when she got hurt,” she says. And then all this happened with me. She's easily my favorite person in the whole world.

Still, Lucy was never far during Hampton soccer games, always on the sidelines encouraging and coaching her teammates. A display of leadership that didn't surprise assistant coach Conner Hagins.

“The amount of times that she would be there to talk to other players too, whether it's her sister Molly coming off the field with certain situations or other seniors, she was a captain for a reason,” Conner says. “She's one of the best leaders that we have this year.”

As he and athletics admin assistant Bridgette Gibbons watched Lucy and her family navigate these new challenges with so much strength - they new they had to do something.

“What can we do, what can we help with,” Bridgette says. “So I always felt that we needed to be there for them.”

This Saturday, Hampton will host the Love For Lucy 3 vs 3 soccer tournament. Dave says that just scratches the surface of the support they've received.

“We can't thank everybody enough,” he says. “It has been so incredibly humbling, and she's a good kid, and it's so wonderful to see that that matters.”

Community support, tight family bonds, the likelihood she will play soccer again, all major motivators for Lucy to keep pushing.

“I cannot wait till I can play soccer again,” she says. “Thinking about Gettysburg makes me excited. Thinking about my cup team. I'll get better. I know that for a fact.”

Featured Image Photo Credit: Lucy Interthal