After being out of school for 15 months due to cancer treatment, Bridget Kelley, 8, was given a back-to-school welcome she will never forget
This little girl spent 15 months battling cancer.— Liam Martin (@LiamWBZ) January 3, 2018
She returned to school today.
Her classmates waited outside in the cold to cheer and chant her name.
I'm crying. pic.twitter.com/VVJkE2nvrT
As Kelley approached her elementary school in Quincy, Massachusetts, she was greeted by hundreds of fellow classmates, law enforcement officers, and teachers, who braved the 4-degree morning weather to cheer and hold up signs welcoming her back.
This morning, we joined classmates and friends in welcoming Bridget back to school. She has been battling leukemia and today was her first day back! We wish her good health and happiness in 2018! #BridgetTheBrave pic.twitter.com/nLbE386wH3— Quincy Police (@quincymapolice) January 2, 2018
"Her classmates wanted to let her know, 'You were out for 15 months, but we absolutely did not forget about you,'" explained Kristin Healy, a parent who helped organize the surprise greeting.
Kelley and her family's lives was completely flipped upside down in September 2016 when Kelley went in to have a swollen tonsil removed but an MRI showed something horrific. She was later diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia and spent nearly 90 days in the Boston Children's hospital going through chemotherapy and surgeries. A few months later, she had a stem cell transplant.
For the transplant to be successful, Kelley had to have limited contact with her friends due to the medication she was taking that suppressed her immune system.
"She had to live in isolation," her mother said. "We couldn't have anybody in the house. She understood that the cancer was serious, but it was almost more devastating that she wasn't able to go to school or soccer or dance or birthday parties."
During the difficult time, Kelley's community came together to bring the family regular meals and organized fundraisers to help raise money for her medical costs and cancer research.
After learning she was returning to school, Kelley's community came together once again to plan the surprise welcome. A boy from her class even started a Facebook group to get the word out.
"I invited 50 people, and by the end of the day it was 150 along with the police," Healy said. "Everyone was just super excited for Bridget after she had a really tough battle."
Thank you to everyone for the outpouring of love & support surrounding Bridget’s big return to school last week! Our family is so appreciative of the efforts of our Merrymount/Quincy community & all of the nice messages we’ve received since her story aired. Thank you!????— Dan Kelley (@DanKelley66) January 8, 2018
Kelley and her parents said they were absolutely stunned by the truly heartwarming welcome. Nearly 200 people had gathered to line the streets and sidewalks to cheer on Kelley as she made her way back to school.
"When we saw all the people, we thought she could be overwhelmed and embarrassed," her father, Dan Kelley, said. "But she raised her arms like 'victory,' and she soaked it in. She totally went with it, and that made it that much more exciting."
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