As Adairville Elementary School student McKenna Smith was undergoing a 24-hour chemotherapy treatment Monday evening, students, parents, teachers and other community members were holding a special cancer awareness night at the school’s home basketball game.
McKenna Smith is an 11-year-old at the Adairville school who was diagnosed with lueikenia in October.
Before the games, cancer survivors were recognized and those not so lucky were memorialized.
T-shirts and bracelets were also sold to help raise money for McKenna’s medical bills.
“We also auctioned off a pair of UK-Vanderbilt basketball tickets,” said Lori Dunlap, who has helped with several fundraisers for McKenna. “They went for $250. Someone just contacted us a few days before the game on Monday and donated them anonymously.”
It was just one of many ways the community has reached out and helped the family during this time of need.
There has also been a chili supper and live auction held at the school and a community yard sale and charity walk held as benefits.
“The community has been awesome supporting her,” Dunlap said.
Also, a fund has been set up at the Adairville branch of Lewisburg Bank in McKenna’s name and many other donations have come in to it, Dunlap said.
During Monday’s game, McKenna was able to have a video chat with the Adairville cheerleaders and other students.
“I think it hit her hard that night, not being able to be there and watch the game when she knew they were doing all this for her,” Dunlap said.
McKenna tried out for the cheerleading squad, made it and was able to attend one practice before her diagnosis came down.
Dunlap said it’s been hard for McKenna, who hasn’t been able to be as active as an 11-year-old normally would because of all the cancer treatments.
“Her birthday was last week, and got to have friends over for a brief time,” Dunlap said. “But she doesn’t get to go out nearly as much as she would like.”
Dunlap said McKenna’s mother, Leigh Ann, has been especially moved by all the support the family has received.
“We grew up together, we’ve known each other since Kindergarten,” she said. “Knowing everybody is so supportive and giving, it’s humbled her. Everything the community is giving her, she wants to be able to pay back one day.”
Leigh Ann has not been able to work as she has been taking care of McKenna and the support has been a big help, Dunlap said.
“Everything that they go through daily - I can’t imagine,” Dunlap said. “I think they’ve spent the a lot of the last three weeks at the Vanderbilt children’s hospital. They spent Thanksgiving and Christmas in the hospital. It’s just been very hard on the family.”