Eight-year-old Laney Brown of West Reading, Pennsylvania had her dying wish to hear many a Christmas carol this holiday come true this weekend. Laney was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia just seven months ago and her family has recently been informed that she may have only days to live.
After Laney’s diagnosis, her family created a Facebook page titled “Team Laney” to garner support and keep others informed of Laney’s progress. In recent weeks the page has also been used to help make some of Laney’s dying wishes come true, including her expressed desire to hear Christmas carols upon her return home from the hospital for the holidays.
Upon learning of Laney’s Christmas carol request, local residents snapped into action scheduling a special Christmas carol event to take place outside her home on Saturday night. The event grew so large that West Reading police had to get involved to handle logistics. Over the course of about an hour, an estimated 10,000 people came to sing Christmas carols for Laney. As they sang, Laney’s family posted a photo of her giving two thumbs up on the Team Laney Facebook page and a message reading “I can hear you now!!! Love you!” Laney was too weak to get up to see them through the window.
Laney’s dance team reportedly performed at the caroling event and Santa Claus made an appearance as well. Many carolers were tearful and expressed their sorrow over Laney’s deteriorating condition in addition to well wishes to her and her family. Hundreds posted to the Team Laney Facebook page following the event as well. A number of those comments indicated that those participating in the caroling event felt that Laney had helped them to see the true meaning of Christmas this holiday season.
This is only the most recent of Laney’s wishes to be granted with the help of the Team Laney Facebook Page and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Laney had originally asked the Make-A-Wish Foundation for a Disney Cruise for her and her family but her deteriorating health prevented that request from being granted. Instead, she requested to meet one of her reported idols, Taylor Swift.
The Make-A-Wish Foundation along with thousands of people voicing support through social media, worked to make Laney’s wish come true and on Friday, Laney’s eighth birthday, it did. Laney had the opportunity to video chat with Swift who is a native of a nearby town. Her family expressed their gratitude to Swift for having made what is likely going to be their daughter’s last birthday such a memorable occasion.
Hershey Hospital and Zoo America also worked to make another of Laney’s wishes come true prior to her discharge last week as they brought a real baby alligator to her hospital room for a visit.
The Team Laney Facebook page has more than 75,000 likes and Laney’s supporters continue to express their eagerness to fulfill as many of her last wishes as they can in her final days. Given the overwhelming success of the Christmas carol event this weekend, it would appear that if there is anything else this dying girl desires, a virtual army of supporters will do whatever they can to make her last wishes come true.
By Michele Wessel