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Wendy Reuer, Published August 15 2013

Friends, family of Lexi Bolstad gather to offer hope, support and love

FARGO – A half-moon peaked out from silver clouds above Essentia Health here Thursday night, illuminating the view from Lexi Bolstad’s fourth-floor hospital room, where she remains in critical condition.

Friends and family of Bolstad gathered across the street in the field of Ed Clapp Park in south Fargo, where they sent 134 purple balloons with messages of hope, support and love floating into the air. The balloons glided northeast across the Fargo-Moorhead skyline like a flock of birds soaring together for miles above the cities.

“We wanted to be where she could see us,” said Emily Woodbridge, Bolstad’s best friend and co-organizer of Thursday night’s candlelight vigil. “Her mom is up there, and she told (Lexi) we were doing this.”

Woodbridge, Hope Lutheran Church members and other friends of Lexi wanted to show their support for Bolstad, who suffered a severe brain injury on Aug. 4.

Lexi has undergone two surgeries since then, including one on Tuesday when surgeons removed a damaged part of her brain and skull.

Bolstad’s father, Jon Bolstad, a captain in the Fargo Fire Department, has said it isn’t exactly clear how Lexi was injured. They only know she fell on her head.

He said Thursday the accident is not his family’s focus. Lexi returning to good health is.

Bolstad said Thursday was a good day for his daughter; doctors are slowly warming her up, returning her body temperature to normal. Lexi is heavily sedated, but not in a medically induced coma, according to her Caring Bridge website.

Bolstad called Lexi’s progress “baby steps” in the right direction.

Like many who attended Thursday’s vigil, Woodbridge described her friend as kind, generous and loving.

“It’s therapy for them because they can’t see her,” Bolstad said of those attending the vigil. “We talk to her and tell her everyone loves her.”

The 5-foot-11-inch would-be senior at Davies High School plays volleyball, basketball and throws the shot put in track and field.

Volleyball is where Lexi befriended Woodbridge two years ago when Woodbridge was new to the area.

Bolstad summed up his daughter with a single word: strong.

It’s her strong will and streak of stubbornness that Bolstad said will help his daughter return to the friends and family that have shown such great support.

“The community, her friends, her classmates, people we don’t even known have all been so generous,” Bolstad said.

Brenda Dukek and her daughter, Davies senior Kristin Dukek, helped Woodbridge organize the vigil. Dukek said the turnout was amazing considering the idea was formed just days before.

She said donations for the Bolstad family can be made at her Caring Bridge site, caringbridge.org/visit/alexisbolstad.

Purple bracelets that read “Pray for Lexi” are also available. Proceeds will be donated to the family.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530