At only 9 years old, a Ball Ground girl succumbed to a disease she’s battled for about five years, leaving fond memories of a sweet, never-complaining “trooper” for her parents, her younger brother and many relatives and friends.
Abigail Kelley died June 18 at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite. She was laid to rest June 21 at Sharp Mountain Baptist Church Cemetery. The Rev. Greg Hamilton and the Rev. Terry Caylor officiated.
(LEFT: Abigail Kelley, 9, of Ball Ground, died June 18 at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Scottish Rite after a five-year battle with juvenile pilocytic astrocytoma. An already-planned yard sale to benefit Cure for the Kids, a nonprofit started several years ago in Abigail's honor, will go on. Volunteers who want to help can call Cindy Davis at (770) 596-7738 or Chessa Wilkins at (770) 337-1209. The sale will be held this Thursday and Friday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturday, 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Macedonia Baptist Church at the corner of East Cherokee Drive and Ga. 20 in Canton.)
The only daughter and eldest child of Shannon and Amy Kelley, of Ball Ground, Abigail loved the color pink, loved to sing, and her little brother thought the world of her.
After several trips to the doctor and what her parents originally thought was a “nervous stomach,” an abnormal MRI showed Abigail had low-grade juvenile pilocytic astrocytoma, a form of brain cancer.
In 2007, when she was interviewed by a Ledger-News reporter about an upcoming Ball Ground parade, the then 4-year-old was excited about being the grand marshal of the big event. She was looking forward to throwing candy out to the crowd.
Family and friends gathered June 21 to pay their respects to the little girl who was known as a trooper.
From her diagnosis at age 4 to the day she passed away, Abigail remained strong and happy, never complaining about what she had to go through.
“Abigail fought a good fight and was a faithful servant to the Lord throughout her five-plus-year journey with childhood cancer,” Mrs. Kelley said. “She never once complained or questioned anything that happened or that she had to endure. She went through life with grace and dignity. She brought all of us great strength. She was full of so much love and shared it openly and freely. I loved to hear her laugh. She had the absolute best laugh.”
Abigail’s cousin, Ball Ground resident Colleen Kelley Shaw called the girl a “blessing to the whole family.”
“She was truly an angel; she was a blessing to the family. There are no words you can describe that child with,” Shaw said, adding something told her to go to Scottish Rite the night Abigail died – she hurried down to the hospital and walked in as the young girl was taking her last breath. “You know she’s happy now. She was truly a blessing to my daughter, Morgan.”
Morgan, Shaw’s teenage daughter, found much inspiration from her young cousin – it was at an impromptu prayer service for Abigail in 2007 that Morgan accepted Jesus Christ into her heart.
“That night, I was saved at the prayer meeting. Ever since then, me and her (Abigail) have had this relationship; we got along so well that everything she would say would remind me of myself when I was little,” Morgan said.
Morgan said she and Abigail spent a great deal of time together; she remembered “date nights” with Elvis and looking at Abigail’s baby pictures as some of the best memories she has of her little cousin.
“She would ask for me to come over; she would always have the craziest things to say,” Morgan said. “She had this thing for Elvis. She loved Elvis, knew every song of his. She had this huge cutout of Elvis… she would make me be the waitress and cook because she and Elvis were on a date. Every time we hung out, we did that – if we weren’t doing that, she would show me her baby pictures and would tell me a story to go along with it.”
Mrs. Kelley said while she will miss her little girl, she knows Abigail is in a good place, and she’ll remember the great things about her first-born child.
“Our sweet Abigail got her wish to go ‘home’ to Heaven on Monday night,” Mrs. Kelley said. “She remained happy, beautiful, and full of smiles and laughter up to the time she went to Heaven. She had developed a true love for horses and loved riding every Friday. No child loved going to Build-A-Bear more than our sweet daughter. She loved music and continued to sing solos regularly at church. Her world remained all pink and she loved anything that was ‘girly.’
“We will miss our sweet Abigail with every breath we take,” Mrs. Kelley said, adding she is thankful for everyone her stood by her family and helped support them through prayers and love. “But we promised her that we would continue to live life full of love, hope, joy and laughter because that is exactly what she taught us over her nine-and-a-half years of living.”
Survivors include Abigail’s father and mother, the Rev. Shannon and Amy Fowler Kelley, of Ball Ground; brother, Jack Kelley, of Ball Ground; grandparents, Steve and Wanda Fowler, of Ball Ground, and Ricky and Brenda Kelley, of Ball Ground; as well as several aunts, uncles, cousins and friends.
In lieu of flowers, the Kelley family asks that donations be made to Abigail’s foundation, “Cure it for Kids,” P.O. Box 554, Ball Ground, Ga., 30107.
Darby Funeral Home in Canton was in charge of arrangements.