Saline County shows support for Kali Hardig

Bob Robbins, KSSN 96 FM

(KATV) Tuesday, September 3 is the kick off to the Saline County Fair. It will be open until September 7. Admission is free and each night the carnival rides begin at 6:00 in the evening. On Saturday the rides start at 1.

Opening night starts with a parade. Kali Hardig,12, is from Benton and supports have made a float in her honor because she can't attend. The parade started in downtown Benton at 6 p.m.

For more details on the events, click here.

The Pink Purse located at 2013 Military Road in Benton is also hosting an event for Kali Tuesday. It is from 6 p.m. - 8 p.m. They will be taking donations for her medical bills, doing a raffle, giveaways and they will have entertainment.

Saturday, August 31: In Florida, a community came out to mourn the loss of a 12-year-boy who died from a brain-eating infection. Saturday, people attended from all over Southwest Florida to say good bye to Zachary Reyna. Zachary lost his battle against an amoeba introduced into his system when he was playing in shallow, warm, fresh water near his home. It's estimated more than one thousand people attended the funeral Saturday, August 31.

Kali Hardig has been battling the same infection. Her mom says she is thinking about the Reynas. Saturday, the Hardig's sent flowers the family for Zachary Reyna's service.

Meanwhile, Arkansans are still showing their support for Kali. Saturday, at a concert in Benton, people were buying bracelets and t-shirts to help raise money for Kali's medical bills. Her condition continues to improve and her family says she's in good spirits.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only two people are known to have survived it in North America. The 12 year old has beat the odds and doctors say she will be the third survivor.

Kali's cousin, Amber Hoppe says, "She is doing amazing. We've been singing to One Direction and dancing. She's talking a whole lot better. Her kidneys are starting to function more efficiently and so she's doing really well."

Awareness flyers were also handed out at the event to let people know how they can help prevent getting parasitic meningitis.

Thursday, August 29, the Hardig's family released the first picture of Kali since she was admitted to Arkansas Children's Hospital on July 19.

Kali has been upgraded to good condition. She is still in the hospital. Kali's family says she is able to talk, walk with help and she has written several words. She is in physical therapy. Kali recently passed her swallow test and can now drink what she wants. She is also about to eat some solid food.

Classmates have raised thousands of dollars for her medical bills by selling cookies, T-shirts, lemonade and hosting car washes on the weekends. Supports wear and sell "Kali's Krew" T-shirts with the Number 3.

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

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. Purchase a Kali Survival Bracelet Since getting approval from the Hardig family to sell the bracelets, military veteran Robert McMillan has been flooded with orders.

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

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.