SHARONVILLE, Ohio (WXIX/Gray News) - A 3-year-old girl who has special needs due to child abuse is now fighting terminal cancer.
Karlyn Reese Blankenship, who goes by Reese, has had a difficult life, yet she has a contagious energy about her and is almost always smiling. (Source: Facebook page/WXIX/Gray News)
Karlyn Reese Blankenship, who goes by Reese, has had a difficult life, yet she has a contagious energy about her and is almost always smiling.
“You would never know she was sick,” said Raquel Scott, Reese’s godmother. “She’s just happy and playful every single day.”
The 3-year-old’s cheery and charming personality often overshadows the pain and hardships she has been forced to face.
“I feel like God told me that he knew that she was going to need strong parents, that she was going to go down a road that she didn’t deserve to go down,” said Chrystie Blankenship, Reese’s mother.
Reese, her adoptive parents say, came into the world fighting. She was born prematurely, barely breathing. By the time she was two, her relatives said she had been severely physically abused by biological family members.
The physical trauma took its toll on Reese’s body, leaving her with a list of disabilities and special needs.
“She was malnourished,” Chyrstie said. “She weighed 15 pounds at 17 months old.”
In October 2017, Reese’s life took a positive turn. She moved in with foster parents Danny and Chrystie Blankenship. Although Reese is blind, unable to walk on her own and must eat a special liquid diet, the Blankenships said she has made phenomenal progress through physical therapy.
“She’s taught me through all of it - don’t give up,” said Danny Blankenship, Reese’s father. “Fight to the end.”
As the Blankenships were preparing to adopt Reese in June 2019, Reese started showing signs that something was wrong with her head. A few weeks before the adoption became official, doctors found a mass on Reese’s brain that was diagnosed as DIPG, stage 4 terminal brain cancer, Chrystie said.
“I was told that our prognosis was nine to 12 months. My knees buckled, and I hit the floor,” Chyrstie said. “In a matter of a second, your entire life has changed, and every plan that you had was gone.”
To help Reese overcome the biggest battle of her life, they have started a nonprofit called “Reese’s Rainbow.” Through fundraisers, social media, T-shirts and wristbands, they want Reese’s story of strength to inspire others.
“I believe with all my heart that if anybody could beat DIPG by fighting, that she would actually beat it,” Danny said.
Reese, the fearless warrior that she is, has already completed a round of radiation. Her loved ones do not know what lies ahead, but what they do know is after all Reese has been through, now is not the time to give up.
“We’re looking for a miracle, and we need that miracle,” Scott said.
A massive fundraiser is planned for Reese and her family on Sept. 14 at the Sharonville Community Center. It will be from 1 p.m. to 11 p.m. and will include live music, a pizza party, appearances by Rosie Red, face painting and a spaghetti dinner.
Ten percent of the money raised will go to The Cure Starts Now Cancer Foundation. The rest of the proceeds will be given to Reese’s family.
T-shirts and wristbands are also for sale. There is a GoFundMe fundraiser page in place for the family.
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