Family and friends say Ryan Hedgpeth has a fighting spirit, both on the volleyball court and off.
Now, her community and teammates are stepping in to raise money for her after a serious car crash has left her fighting for her life.
Her best friends and team captains Christen Zammit and Kylah Blackmore got the call early Thursday morning that Hedgpeth was in a serious crash on her way to practice.
"Right when it happened, Christen and I got in the car with our coach and we went and saw her," said Blackmore.
Despite her serious injuries, Hedgpeth's coach said she knows she'll pull through.
"She has numerous broken bones, two collapsed lungs, she is sedated, she is able to answer commands," said Roanoke College women's volleyball coach Blair Trail. "She's a fighter and I definitely think she's going to fight through all these injuries. Everyone's taking it day by day."
Family has been by her side in West Virginia, where medics immediately flew her to receive surgery for her injuries.
Back home, her community has been coming up with ways they can help.
"The morning Christen and I got home from the hospital, we were just like we have to do something immediately," said Blackmore.
Zammit and Blackmore designed a T-shirt, bearing the hashtag '#RyanStrong' and a cartoon of her dog, Blue, on the back. They say the two are an inseparable dynamic duo.
"We didn't even know she was getting Blue to begin with," laughed Zammit. "So he's a Bernese mountain dog. He's ginormous. He's twice the size of Ryan at this point."
Blue was in the car with Hedgpeth during the crash. Like a true best friend, he never left her side.
"When the accident happened, Blue was covering her and stayed right by her side and crawled over to her and just covered her to protect her," said Zammit.
So far, their T-shirts and a GoFundMe page set up by a relative have raised over $15,000 for Hedgpeth.
Her team's co-captains say it's the least they can do for their fierce friend.
"She shows up every practice - she's ready to go," said Blackmore. "She's a fighter."
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