A brave young girl who had to face months of cancer treatment has been welcomed back to school by a huge group of well-wishers.
Bridget Kelley, 8, had been away for 15 months as she underwent arduous treatment for lymphoblastic leukemia, a type of blood cancer. But the warm welcome she received from school friends, families and even police officers, was something she will never forget.
“It was almost overwhelming,” Bridget’s mother, Megan Kelley, told TODAY. “She felt so special and so welcomed after such a long and hard road.”
“Her classmates wanted to let her know, ‘You were out for 15 months, but we absolutely did not forget about you,” said Kristin Healy, a school parent who helped organize the gathering.
Despite the bitter 4-degree weather, hundreds turned out to welcome Bridget back following her ordeal. “There were parents crying,” Healy added. “It was amazing.”
The gathering became so massive that Bridget’s parents Kelley and Dan were concerned she might get a little overwhelmed. But when it came to it, their little girl took it all in her stride, receiving the applause and wishes of support and congratulations.
“When we saw all the people we thought she could be overwhelmed and embarrassed,” Kelley said. “But she raised her arms like ‘Victory!’ and she soaked it in. She totally went with it, and that made it that much more exciting.”
Bridget was confronted by the horrendous diagnosis of cancer after what appeared to be a simple tonsil problem. Her mother explained that her condition even required a stem cell transplant in March after she didn’t immediately go into remission.
“We were completely blindsided,” Kelley said. “We just thought she was getting her tonsil out.”
Bridget’s 3-year-old sister, Shannon, stepped forward for the stem cell transplant. Following this, Bridget was confined to a very strictly controlled environment, as her immune system was medically repressed.
“She had to live in isolation,” Kelley said. “We couldn’t have anybody in the house. She understood that the cancer was serious, but it was almost more devastating that she wasn’t able to go to school or soccer or dance or birthday parties.”
During her prolonged period of treatment, families in the community arranged to regularly bring meals to the Kelleys and raised money for the family and cancer research. Bridget also received treatment while she was in the hospital so she could graduate to third grade and remain with her classmates. What a brave little girl!
Hopefully no members of the Quincy Kelleys will need to beat cancer for our next 15 minutes, but we certainly…
Throughout her cancer battle, Bridget and her parents have done all they can to hold on to the positives and focus on hope in a devastatingly difficult situation. One was the family did this was to create #BridgetsJokeChallenge. The aims, as the Facebook page details, are simple:
“1. Help spread joy/laughter, while giving Bridget a fun distraction during her hospital stay.
2. Promote #LeukemiaAwareness and #ChildhoodCancerAwareness
3. Raise money for charities that are working to help children and their families deal with the difficulty of a cancer diagnosis and treatment.”
You participate in the joke challenge by posting a video telling Bridget a family-friendly joke, and then tag anyone you would like to follow your lead. The campaign gained some amazing traction on social media, with many people getting involved and telling their best jokes. Even the police gave it a go! In a brilliant video from Brookline Police Department, the cops do their best to make Bridget laugh (some are better than others).
“We got word this week that you weren’t feeling that good. I’m sure everything is gonna work out fine. I too am a cancer survivor, and things are going pretty good, as far as I know they are going great,” said Brookline Chief of police Dan O’Leary.
Then, the chief’s joke: “What did the digital clock say to the grandfather clock? ‘Look Grandpa! No hands!'”
In honor of both #LawEnforcementAppreciationDay and a revamped interest in #BridgetsJokeChallenge (likely the result of…
Pray for Bridget and her family as she starts back with her classes.