Kali overcomes her fear of water with donated pool

BENTON (KATV) - The 12-year-old survivor of a rare brain-eating infection is facing her biggest fears after local businesses give her a special gift.

Just months after Kali Hardig was diagnosed with an infection that nearly killed her, two local businesses teamed up and gave her a pool. Her mom, Traci Hardig said being able to get into that pool is a significant milestone for Kali.

"I was so excited," said Kali Hardig.

It was like Christmas arrived early for 12-year-old Kali Hardig.

I've always wanted a pool and this was the first time getting a pool.

Except it's not a present from her parents or even a relative, this pool came from complete strangers who wanted to do something nice for Kali who's only the third person to survive a rare and often fatal brain-eating disease.

"I was just playing around and having fun it was cool," said Kali. "There's no way you can thank them."

But Kali wasn't always this excited to jump in a pool. Her first time was just a couple of weeks ago at Arkansas Children's Hospital.

"I was a little scared," she said.

For someone who contracted a disease with a 97 percent mortality rate in water, even if it was in warm fresh water, it was a frightening experience.

"She started crying and she was very terrified because she didn't understand the difference between the water in the shower and swimming water," said Traci Hardig. "She just related being sick to the water and she was just terrified."

Getting over her fear of water was a big accomplishment, her mother says she got many more ahead but there's one at the top of their priority list.

"Let Kali get to some normal stuff and be normal 12-year-old again," she said.

The pools were donated by Martin and Hood pools.

One of the things Kali and her mother emphasized is that they are looking forward to having some normalcy and a daily routine.