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The Bravest Person I Know

Posted on December 02 2014

I became very close with a family that accepted me as one of their own from the very beginning. I had never heard of cystic fibrosis prior to meeting them.

The first time I met the fierce and courageous Chalee was terrifying for me. I had heard so much about her. However, it wasn't her disease that I had heard about - it was the countless stories her family had told me about the comical or brave things she did or said. Before meeting her, I knew she was strong, she was compassionate, and she was driven. She wasn't a wall-flower like most young girls are. When she wanted something, she went out and got it for herself. She was an avid barrel racer, a strategic piñata batter, a loyal friend, and a not so good hide and seek player. In the short time I knew her, she had me wrapped around her finger. Chalee talked me into water balloon fights, painting demo derby cars, and singing karaoke. She lit up my entire life with joy and excitement every time I was near her.

A lot of lives are changed forever because of her. A lot of lives came crashing down, including mine, when we lost her. Her loyal and rallying spirit still remains with us, as the Chalee Gilliland Foundation was created to honor her memory. By leaning on each other, we have all made it through the difficulty of watching her go - exactly as she would've wanted us to.

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