Hendricks County Flyer, Avon, IN

Local News

January 18, 2013

School to host blood drive for student with cancer

AVON — Kaylee Willman had a one-word answer for how she's currently feeling.

"Good."

The second-grader at River Birch Elementary School recently returned to school for the first time since September. That's when she was diagnosed with leukemia.

"We had been noticing she looked pale for a week or so before we took her in to a doctor," said her father, Ryan. Kaylee came home from school one day and mentioned that her art teacher had asked her if she was feeling OK.

"That was kind of a trigger to call a doctor," Ryan said.

He and his wife Amy were shocked when they heard the diagnosis. Within hours Kaylee was admitted to Riley Hospital for Children. The good news is the cancer appears to have been discovered early.

"She had some minor bruising, but not nearly the physical side effects a lot of people say are common, like what (Colts) coach Chuck Pagano had," Ryan said.

Kaylee's treatment has been going well.

"Doctors are telling us she's reacting the way they'd hoped," Ryan said. "They expect her to make a full recovery."

In fact, Kaylee learned in October that her cancer was in remission - on her birthday.

"She said that was the best birthday present ever," Ryan said.

With her treatments not as intense now, Kaylee's energy level has been up. That enabled her to better enjoy the holidays. She returned to River Birch for a program presented by the Indiana Blood Center. Much of the student body and school faculty wore purple for the occasion, which is Kaylee's favorite color.

The Indiana Blood Center also announced a blood drive dedicated to Kaylee. It will be from 11:15 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the River Birch gym. Each student who recruits a blood donor will get a Pagano regulation-size football.

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