Courage comes in small packages, group chooses Kylie Pelletier 2012 State of Maine Champion Child
FRENCHVILLE– Little Kylie Pelletier, age six, of Frenchville, might not be the face one immediately imagines when they hear the word ‘courage,’ but her friends and family know differently, and soon, after being named Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals’ 2012 State of Maine Champion Child, her face will leap into peoples’ minds at the word.
Kylie, surrounded by family, friends, media, and public officials or their representatives, was all smiles at a special assembly in her honor at Dr. Levesque Elementary School Friday afternoon where Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals (CMNH) named her their 2012 State of Maine Champion Child.
Doctors diagnosed Kylie, age 6, with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in December 2010.
“It was one of the worst days of my life,” said Kylie’s grandmother, Ann Pelletier, who attended the assembly with her husband Carroll. “I just wished I could take her place. I didn’t just feel bad for her, but also for her parents because I’m a mom and I knew how hard it was going to be for them.”
Jeff Pelletier, Kylie’s dad, said that when doctors told him and his wife Sherrie the news about Kylie’s illness, it was like being “[run] over by a bus. It was devastating.”
But through Kylie’s intense treatment regimen at Eastern Maine Medical Center, she won the hearts of everyone around her with her “infectious smile” and upbeat, courageous attitude.
“That little girl has more courage than a lot of adults I know,” said her grandmother.
When Josh Scroggins, director of CMNH of EMHS, first ran across Kylie, he was visiting the floor of the hospital where doctors were treating her. Scroggins said her smile captivated him from across the room and he had to go meet her.
“It was then that I knew she’d be our next State of Maine Champion Child,” he said.
To present the case for choosing Kylie to represent the entire state “as [ambassador] for the 17 million children treated at Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals annually,” Scroggins said that Kylie went through an application process to the national committee of CMNH which included, among other things, proving that the community had embraced Kylie. He said they used local media coverage, including stories from Fiddlehead Focus about Kylie, to meet that criterion.
Scroggins said Kylie “embraces all of the challenges that life throws at her,” and she handles it all with “a maturity of someone far older.”
Scroggins pointed out that the slogan written on the sign entering Frenchville that reads, “A small town with a big heart,” was appropriate for this situation. “I can’t think of a better way to categorize Kylie as well, a small one with a huge, huge heart.”
According to a press release by CMNH, as the 2012 State of Maine Champion Child, Kylie will travel to Washington D.C. and Orlando, Florida to meet with delegates and media to highlight the vital work taking place at pediatric hospitals throughout the country.
“We were just honored and excited because we know how great Kylie is, but now everyone will get to see how great she is,” said Kylie’s mom Sherrie.
Sherrie said that Kylie has been an inspiration to her whole family through this experience. “Her strength has really been what’s pulled us through each day. It’s really amazing that she is only six-years-old and has so much courage.”
Scroggins praised Kylie’s friends and family gathered at the assembly for helping to mold Kylie into the dynamic girl she has become.
“It takes a strong family. It takes a strong community, and it also takes a school,” said Scroggins.
He gave Dr. Levesque School a poster to hang on their walls and told the students that when they looked at it, they should take pride in knowing that someone from their school was representing the entire state as the 2012 State of Maine Champion Child.
Kylie’s feelings on being chosen were clear.
“I’m so excited,” said Kylie. “I want to talk to the president and the kids the most.” Kylie said she has a special message for President Obama. “I want to tell him that I love him and I’m just lucky I got to see him.”
Kylie, who really likes boys and proudly claims to have “18 boyfriends,” said she’s nervous about boarding a plane for the first time. But for a little girl with so much courage, she’ll likely conquer that fear real quick.
Kylie has a message that she likes to share with other sick children. “I tell them, just take it one day at a time and tomorrow’s going to be better. Just go to your treatments and you’ll feel better every day.”