GREENFIELD — Those who have met Christina Kellermeier through the years know her as rambunctious and outgoing, and even many of those who don’t know her personally are familiar with her story.
Since 2011, when Christina was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, she’s gone through numerous rounds of chemotherapy and treatment, but recently, her symptoms worsened. To celebrate the 9-year-old and her ongoing battle with cancer, hundreds gathered at J.B. Stephens Elementary School on Friday evening.
The event, called “Craft and Laugh with Christina,” featured all of the third-grader’s favorite activities, including a puppet show and plenty of crafts.
Christina’s mother, Lori Gossett, said crafts hold a special significance for the girl.
When she’d go to Riley Hospital for Children for her treatment, Gossett said, nurses would give Christina crayons and paints to play with to pass the time.
“It was never chemo day to her,” Gossett said. “It was her craft day. That made a huge difference in her outlook, just being able to sit there and tolerate all that because she always had something to paint or color.”
Christina discontinued chemotherapy about two weeks ago, Gossett said, after the treatment stopped shrinking her tumor.
Friday’s event was organized by teachers and staff members from J.B. Stephens, who said they wanted to honor the young cancer patient and her courage.
“She means so much to everyone here,” said Christy Harpold, social worker at J.B. Stephens, who’s known Christina since she came into the school as a kindergartner in 2011, the same year she was diagnosed.
Harpold said she and several other teachers decided on the spur of the moment to conduct the celebration — planning started just a week prior to the event — but all the pieces fell into place.
The staff reached out through social media and other means to invite parents, friends and supporters.
“It’s amazing to see so many people here,” she said. “Looking around, I see people from all over the community here. That’s just a testament to Christina and her family and the impact it’s made on the school.”
Bradley Kuntz, an eighth-grader at Greenfield Central Junior High School, said that, even though he’s never met Christina, he’s knows the misfortunes of cancer firsthand.
“I don’t know Christina personally, but I’ve had someone close to me die of cancer,” he said. “Seeing that and feeling it made me want to come out and show her the community’s support. She’s part of the Greenfield-Central family.”
Staff members banded together to contribute what they could to the cause, Harpold said. Items from the event’s silent auction included unconventional but appealing prizes for students, such as an extra period of recess or a classroom party.
The event raised just under $2,000, which will be shared with Christina’s family and Riley Hospital for Children.
Despite her deteriorating condition, Gossett said, Christina still manages to keep a positive attitude.
“Even in bad situations, it’s amazing how she can say something funny and make people feel better,” Gossett said. “She always has something fast and witty to say. That’s what kind of kid she is.”