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Penn State cheerleader’s fall and brain injury brings campus together in prayer

Eric Adelson
Yahoo Sports

The darkest year in the history of Penn State University has served to bring the campus together like never before. And now it’s united for another tragic reason: a life-threatening injury to one of its students.

On Saturday night, sophomore cheerleader Paige Raque fell 39 feet out of a fifth-story window in the apartment building where she lives. She is now in critical condition at a local hospital. There is no short-term or long-term prognosis yet.

“This morning she did show some signs of movement,” Randy Jepson told Yahoo! Sports on Tuesday. Jepson, who is acting as the Raque family spokesman, coaches Paige’s older brother, Parker, on the Penn State gymnastics team. He is also the father of Paige’s freshman year roommate.

“She did open her eyes a bit,” Jepson said. “It is a very slow recovery process.”

Raque, 19, is from Louisville, where she attended the Christian Academy. A phone call to the school was forwarded to the marketing department and not returned.

“She’s very fun-loving,” Jepson said. “A lot of spark. A great smile. She has so many friends and family supporting her. We’re just hoping things turn around for her.”

Penn State head coach Bill O’Brien said Tuesday he would reach out to the Raque family.

“My heart goes out to Paige and her family and I feel terrible about that,” O’Brien said during a press conference, “When I get back over there I'll make some calls and make sure that their family understands. I know her brother is a great gymnast here, and it's a terrible thing. Like I said, my heart goes out to that family.”

Jepson said Raque has cheered at home football games this year and she is a “die-hard Penn Stater.”

State College police are investigating the fall, though it appears it was accidental. While the Penn State community waits for updates, support is flooding in from football players, cheerleaders, and other well-wishers across the country under the Twitter hashtag #prayforpaige.

“There seems to be a groundswell developing,” Jepson said. “When tragedy strikes, people show their true colors.”

That’s happened at Penn State all year long. And it will have to keep happening, as Jepson said Raque’s recovery process will be “somewhat long-term.”

“I just know that God is going to heal my sister/bestfriend in due time,” Parker Raque tweeted Tuesday. “He loves his children and is the almighty healer.”

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