As Ali Nowotny prepared for her Dec. 19 brain surgery at Mayo Clinic, people from throughout the Black Hills stepped up to help. Her school, St. Thomas More, raised funds by selling Ali Tough T-shirts and taking donations.

Hill City High School raised $1,100 for the Nowotny family to help cover travel and medical expenses. And then, there are those letters.

Since Ali's story ran in the Rapid City Journal on Nov. 21, Ali has been overwhelmed with letters and notes, most filled with a little money to help with expenses.

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One of the letters came from a kindergarten student who wished Ali well and then wrote about her own spinal tumor. The little girl sent some money and a school picture. Ali quickly sent a thank you and her school picture. Someday, Ali hopes to meet her new friend, as well as some of the others who have offered her hope.

"It's really been helping me to keep faith," she said.

Title: Ali's Journey

Date: December 16th, 2008

Follow Ali Nowotny's journey as she travels to Minnesota to undergo brain surgery to remove a brain tumor.


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