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COVID-19 cancels annual Butterfly Ball memorializing Hartselle child

The fourth annual Butterfly Ball held by the Prayers for Kayleigh Foundation has been cancelled.  

The announcement came recently on the nonprofit organization’s Facebook page, and according to the post, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is to blame.  

“It is with an abundance of caution and heavy hearts we announce the 2020 Butterfly Ball is cancelled due to COVID-19. This means we need your help now more than ever,” the post reads 

The event is the largest fundraiser of the year held by the PFK, founded by Tim and ‘Carrow McClendon of Hartselle in honor of their daughter.  

“Without (the event) we will be forced to scale back or cancel research grants, awareness programs, scholarships as well as family and community support initiatives,” the post continued.  

“The event is attended by many who work in the medical field, and a lot of our speakers are either cancer survivors or fighting cancer, so holding it this year wasn’t worth the risk,” ‘Carrow added.  

The foundation began as a Facebook page ‘Carrow started as a way to keep friends and family updated after Kayleigh’s diagnosis with a terminal brain tumor, DIPG, in 2016.  

Last year the Butterfly Ball raised more than $40,000 for pediatric cancer research, and even though the event won’t happen this year, there will be a live auction held virtually in its place that will launch Nov. 20 and be open for a week. Visit the PFK Foundation website for more information about available items and how to bid. 

Kayleigh’s story 

In May 2016 Kayleigh was diagnosed with Diffused Intrinsic Pontine Glioma  DIPG  an inoperable, incurable brain tumor. Most patients diagnosed with DIPG are children ages 6-10; the life expectancy is 6-9 months from diagnosis, and the survival rate is less than 1 percent.  

Medically, there is no hope, no medicine that can even slow it down.  

Patients with DIPG can choose to do radiation, and if it works, it might buy them a little more time – but even with radiation, the tumor roars back to life with vengeance in a matter of months.  

Once the tumor begins to progress, it shuts down the patient’s fine motor skills, then gross motor skills, taking away the ability to walk, swallow and breathe. Through all of this, patients are completely aware of their surroundings; they can think and feel, they are just trapped inside their bodies.  

‘Carrow said Kayleigh battled DIPG valiantly with a bright, beautiful positive attitude. Her spunky, endearing nature drew a community into a family, called prayer warriors together from around the globe and taught all of us that God is big enough to carry us through any storm.  

Kayleigh lost her battle to DIPG Nov. 15, 2016. “We know she is watching from heaven,” ‘Carrow said. “We began The Prayers for Kayleigh Foundation as her legacy  a legacy of hope as we strive to help raise funding and awareness to beat this brutal cancer monster. Children are too precious not to fight for.”  

The PFK Foundation now raises money for pediatric cancer research. According to the PFK website, less than 4 percent of the federal cancer funding goes to pediatric cancer.  

“Research to save our children is primarily funded by private foundations, individuals and businesses, and research needs all the funding we can muster. Any donations received through the PFK Foundation will go to fund cancer research, raise awareness, help families with children battling life threatening medical conditions and to support our community through educational scholarships and municipal grants,” the website reads.  

Tax-deductible donations can be made online at www.thepfkfoundation.org.