Community rallies around Clark Fork teen

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(Photo courtesy LESLIE KIEBERT) Ali Sutton, 16, pictured here blocking during a Clark Fork volleyball game last fall, recently became very ill and was hospitalized while visiting a friend in Spain. A car wash and bake sale fundraiser is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at Hays Chevron in Clark Fork.

CLARK FORK — A Clark Fork teen was hospitalized in Spain recently after becoming ill with a bacterial infection of undetermined nature.

"Ali is the girl who brightens up a room just because she is in it," said her mom, Susan Sutton, in an email to the Bee. "She's the girl who gives her all and is always there for any and all of her friends."

Because of 16-year-old Ali Sutton's commitment to her community, Sutton said her hope is the  community can come together and return that same level of commitment back to her. Because Ali's United States medical insurance will not cover her five-day hospital stay and multiple tests and treatments in Spain, the Clark Fork volleyball team is organizing a car wash and bake sale this Saturday to help out the family.

Ali is number 19 on the Clark Fork volleyball team, said head coach Cindy Derr. She is also a member of the Lady Cats varsity basketball team and the varsity track team.

According to the Sutton family's GoFundMe account, Ali received the "opportunity of a lifetime," when she got the opportunity to go stay with a friend, a former foreign exchange student, in Spain. All was going well until she suddenly became very ill with an infection.

"Ali's fever rose out of control and she was admitted to a hospital in Pamplona," the fundraising site says. "She became very weak, and terrified. Her mom and family were back home in Idaho and had no way to get to her, to comfort her."

Ali was "bombarded" with several tests, including an MRI, brain scan, multiple ultrasounds, chest X-rays, a spinal tap, multiple blood draws and medicines. Her white blood count skyrocketed and her fever spiked between 108 and 110 degrees. She was eventually diagnosed with "fever syndrome without focus."

After several days her fever came down. Ali was in the hospital from Aug. 9 until Monday, Aug. 14. She is now on a strong antibiotic and is planning her trip back to Clark Fork to begin her junior year this fall.

Sutton said since her release from the hospital, Ali is staying with her friend Maria and her family, and is getting better each day. The doctor who oversaw Ali's stay in the hospital put a five-day hold on having her stay in Spain before traveling home. She could leave as early as today, but her original flight date has her scheduled to come back to the U.S. on Aug. 22. 

Her mom wants to thank everyone who has helped in one way or another, sending Ali positive thoughts and prayers, and everyone helping with the fundraisers for her medical bills.

The car wash and bake sale is scheduled from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Hays Chevron in Clark Fork. All donations go toward Ali’s medical bills. People can also donate to her GoFundMe account at medical-fund.

Mary Malone can be reached by email at and follow her on Twitter @MaryDailyBee.

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