Abigail Kelley, 9, died at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite Hospital from complications from a brain tumor.
She was the daughter of the Rev. Shannon Kelley and Amy Fowler Kelley of Ball Ground.
Abigail was first diagnosed at age 4 with juvenile pilocytic astrocytoma. She had a spinal tumor, which was removed at that time, and a brain tumor.
In 2007 and 2008, Abigail underwent chemotherapy treatments at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite.
Supporters have organized benefits to help with medical expenses since she was diagnosed with cancer five years ago.
Abigail attended Ball Ground Elementary and later was homeschooled.
Family friend Karen Jordan, who is Ball Ground city clerk, said that Abigail was a special child and will be missed by all who knew her.
“She was a very special child, just her strength and her faith, to be such a small child; she had faith in God that some people only dream about.” Jordan said with tears in her voice. “She would sing in church with her grandmother, and what a blessing we would get out of hearing her sing her heart out. She always just kept on going. She was small in statue but she was a giant in spirit.”
Jordan recounted how last summer Abigail was saved at church, and that at their church they only hold baptisms once each year. But they made an exception for the young girl.
“A lot of people were there that day. Her uncle is Larry Fowler, a lot of Macedonia residents came. It was a special day for everyone,” Jordan said.
The baptism took place at an outdoor baptizing pool on the church grounds.
“It is just amazing how strong this family’s faith has been through this, through them God has blessed all of us more than you could ever imagine, Jordan said. “Where most people would ask why, they have stayed strong in their faith; I don’t think there is anybody else like them on earth.”
Jordan said that she was crying tears of joy, “Because we know she is in a better place, she was one of God’s special people.”
Dwight Kelley, a cousin of the family, said that he was always impressed with what a sweet and well-behaved young lady Abigail was.
Both families, along with many other relatives, attend Sharp Mountain Baptist Church in Ball Ground, where Dwight Kelley would often see Abigail.
“She was a sweet child and loved to sing in church with her grandmother. Although she was sick a lot, she was always well behaved and I never saw her be anything but cheerful and nice,” Kelley said.
Kelley also said that Abigail was a loving child, toward her family and her little brother, who also has health issues.
“They adored each other, and no one had to be a family member to see that,” Dwight Kelley said.
Kelley also said he admired her parents and how they have handled the situation over the years.
“This was hard on the whole family because they watched her battle the disease and to see her lose her battle is just hard, Dwight Kelley said. “But her parents, Amy and Shannon, have more faith than I could ever have had in the situation — they inspire people with their faith.”
Funeral services are scheduled for 2 p.m. on Thursday at Sharp Mountain Baptist Church with Rev. Phillip Burt, Rev. Greg Hamilton and Rev. Terry Caylor officiating.
Burial will follow in the Sharp Mountain Baptist Church Cemetery.
The family will receive friends at Darby Funeral Home all day today and on Thursday.
Other survivors in addition to her parents include her brother, Jack Kelley, grandparents Steve and Wanda Fowler, and Ricky and Brenda Kelley, all of Ball Ground; and several aunts, uncles, cousins and friends.
The family request that in lieu of flowers donations be made to Abigail’s foundation “Cure it for kids” at P.O. Box 554. Ball Ground, GA, 30107.