Their school colors may be red and white, but Hillsboro students and staff have been wearing lots of orange recently in support of sixth-grader Abigail Lykins, who has been diagnosed with a form of leukemia.
“They are absolutely wonderful and have been so, so good to us, I don’t even have the words to describe it,” Lykins’ mother, Sarah Garvie, said Wednesday from Children’s Hospital in Cincinnati, where she has been since her daughter was admitted on Feb. 21. “It’s wonderful. It has kept our spirits up knowing she has that kind of support behind her.”
That support has come in the form cards, letters, a banner, a gift basket and more that students, staff and school organizations like student council have sent Lykins’ way, and plan to keep on sending as long as she’s in the hospital.
“It’s been kind of a cool thing because it’s been a joint effort,” said Angie Juillerat, a secretary at the school. “She’s a sixth-grader, but students on both sides (middle school and high school) of the school are doing things for her. I heard some of them say, ‘You know, that could be me.’ It’s nice and refreshing to see kids do things like this. It’s really been amazing.”
Juillerat, who lost an infant grandson not long ago, has lent a hand, too.
When the school decided to have a Wear Orange For Abi Day last Friday, Juillerat knew there were some students who wouldn’t have anything orange to wear. So, since she had some extra orange ribbon from wreaths she makes as a side business, she decided to make some lapel ribbons. She said that since she started she’s given out 400 to 500 ribbons, and she’s still making them.
“Bus drivers, people in the community, they just started stopping by to pick them up,” Juillerat said.
She said the ribbons are free, but she’s collected $295 in donations from people picking them up. She has also decided to raffle off one of her wreaths for Lykins and hopes to be able to present Lykins’ family with $1,000 check to use for expenses they incur while Lykins is in the hospital.
The wreath drawing will be held March 12. Tickets are $1 and can be purchased from Juillerat at the school office from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Juillerat said she loves her job and the students and that Lykins’ story pierced her heart.
“When we lost my grandson, people did so many good things for us, and it came from more than one community,” Juillerat said as emotion shook her voice. “I can’t even tell you how good people treated our family. It was like we were their family, and we were so appreciative.
“When it’s a really bad situation, it’s really good to know there are people out there who really care. You can never repay them for what they did, all you do is do something nice for someone else. It’s kind of like paying it forward.”
And it’s not just been the school that’s supporting Lykins. There is a Facebook page called TeamAbi and Garvie said her daughter received a package Wednesday from someone in Chicago they didn’t even know. A big sign in front of Holtfield Station just north of the Hillsboro schools recently had the words, “We support TeamAbi,” posted on it.
“I just think the community has been amazing with its support,” said Lykins’ grandmother, Tammy Sandlin. “It makes it so much easier on the whole family to know that everyone is praying for her and thinking of her. It’s just been tremendous.”
Lykins was at her uncle’s, former Hillsboro resident Dave Magee, home in Wilmington on Feb. 20 when her most recent story started. She was sitting at a computer doing homework when she started laughing, then started coughing. Since she’s had asthma since she was 4 or 5, Dave wife’s Beth decided they should take her to Clinton Memorial Hospital.
At CMH she received a breathing treatment and a chest Xray that showed fluid on her lungs, which doctors figured might mean Lykins had pneumonia, her mother said. Then a CAT scan showed a mass on her chest, which likely meant either leukemia or lymphoma.
The next day Garvie took her daughter to the Children’s Hospital emergency room when it was determined that she had a form of leukemia in her lymph nodes. Neither of them have left since. The hospital did a spinal tap and bone marrow biopsy on Monday, then started chemotherapy on Tuesday, Feb. 23.
Garvie said her daughter is supposed to get out of the hospital March 22, which is her birthday. She said Lykins will then have to go back to the hospital once a week for six to nine months. So far though, Garvie said, the chemotherapy is working exceptionally well, although it has bothered her daughter’s kidneys and required Lykins to be on dialysis.
Lykins is a softball player and her mother said that if there’s anything she loves more, it’s her family and kids.
“She loves little babies and kids,” Garvie said. “Anytime she’s around them she can’t stay away from them. She’s very family-oriented.”
Cards can be sent to Lykins at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, 3333 Burnett Ave., Room 511, Cincinnati, Ohio 45229.
“Abi & her family want to thank the students, teachers and staff for all of their support,” Sandlin said in an email to The Times-Gazette. “Words cannot express how blessed we feel having everyone’s thoughts and prayers. We having an amazing community supporting Abi.”
Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or on Twitter @13gillilandj.