Girl with parasitic meningitis takes first steps

(KATV) Little Rock - We have more good news to share about the 12-year old Benton girl who is recovering from a brain eating parasite. She was admitted to Arkansas Children's Hospital July 19. According to the CDC, the fatality rate is over 99%.

On August 19, her mom, Traci had tears of joy when Kali said, "Hi Mama". Traci Hardig says, "Kali is doing so amazing and we are so proud if her. She just does something everyday that blows us away. I have such an amazing little girl and she has big things to do."

Family members say Kali Hardig walked across a room Tuesday, August 20, with the help of a person on each side holding her arms. She also threw a basketball in the goal and swung a bat at blocks. She is able to sit up in bed and watch TV.

Kali is out of ICU and listed in fair condition. She is expected to be in rehab for at least a couple of months.

Doctors at Arkansas Children's Hospital say Kali will be only the third person to survive out of 128 known infected individuals in the United States from 1962 to 2012.

Last week, Kali wrote her name and that she loves her dad.

Classmates have raised thousands of dollars for her medical bills by selling cookies, T-shirts, lemonade and hosting car washes on the weekends.

August 22, a fundraiser will be held at Denton's Trotline in Benton.

On August 24, Dimples and Diamonds photography is doing mini photo sessions from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. at Lake Willastein Park in Maumelle. $30 of the $45 sessions will go to the Hardig family. The sessions are booked and the photographer has agreed to do a limited amount of sessions on certain days leading up to August 24.

September 5, from 4 to 9, Texas Roadhouse is giving a portion of sales to Kali's medical bills.

On Saturday, September 14, supporters are hosting a golf tournament for Kali. There are spots available for teams of 4. It will cost $75 per golfer and you can sponsor a team or the event. The tournament will be held at Stone Links Golf Course starting at 8 a.m. Dinner will be served by Texas Roadhouse. For details on how to enter, contact Vanessa Beck at

Robert McMillan of Rogers has never met the family but has daughters and wanted to use his talents to raise money. He is making survival bracelets in Kali's favorite colors.

"Fight like a Girl" bracelets raise money for Kali Hardig

Since getting approval from the Hardig family to sell the bracelets, military veteran Robert McMillan has been flooded with orders. He says, "The ongoing support for Kali's family has been tremendous. We have done fundraisers in the past and only earned a fraction of what you have honored us with. Please remember it is only my wife and I taking orders, making the bracelets and shipping them so it may take more than our usual amount of time to get yours out. Thank you everyone and God Bless."

The Prayers for Kali Le Ann Facebook page is getting support from all over the world.

Donations to medical bills can be made at any Arvest Bank branch. The account is "Kali Le Ann Hardig'

Background: When Kali was first brought to a hospital with severe symptoms of meningitis, her odds of living were very slim; but Friday, August 9, Kali was moved from the intensive care unit into the floor unit, where she'll continue her road to recovery.

"I mean it was ecstatic news and she did so well to breathe on her own, so it was just unbelievable," said Kali's mother Traci Hardig about her daughter being taken off a ventilator.

Traci Hardig said about the miraculous day it became apparent Kali was going to survive, making childhood accomplishments even while lying in a hospital bed.

"Kali has made me so proud these past three weeks you can't believe it," her mother added.

Since the beginning of this emotional roller coaster for the family, doctors knew they were up against deadly bacteria.

"The amoeba will actually eat away at the tissue; it literally eats the tissues," said Dr. Mark Heulitt. "It is a severe form of meningitis where your brain will be eaten by the amoeba."

Dr. Heulitt is one of Kali's doctors at ACH. He said an experimental drug from Germany is playing a crucial role in Kali's survival, along with the timing of her seeing a doctor, even before she made it to ACH.

Dr. Heulitt adds, "Any delay in this is very serious. I agree absolutely that one of the things is if she waited another day she would not be alive today,"

A confirmed case of the brain eating amoeba that has threatened Kali's life has now been reported in Southwest Florida. The age and condition of the patient have not been released.

Dr. Heulitt continues, "Since we have a survivor everyone wants to know what we did. There is another child who's recently in another children's hospital who they think has naegleria, so the Center for Disease Control directed the hospital to contact us."

Kali's mom, Traci says, "Kali and I are asking for you all to add Zachary to your prayers. We want prayers 4 # 4. Kali's Krew loves you and is supporting you all the way. Slow and steady wins the race."

Through online outreach, it's safe to say the people of Arkansas consider Kali their adopted child.

"It's really touched us, I mean we can't believe the support that we've gained and the people that just want to pray for Kali," Hardig said.

Kali still has a road of rehab ahead of her. Doctors expect a hospital stay for about two more months to retrain parts of her brain.

It's unknown right now if she'll experience any side effects.

Officials with the ADH say it is the second case of the rare illness from the same water park in the past three years. The other victim, a 7 year old boy died in 2010.