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Taylor Swift reaches out to a little girl fighting a big battle

August 13, 2011

Four-year-old Kadie Stonebraker, the daughter of Sarah and Jake Stonebraker of Marion Center, received this dress — just like the one worn by Taylor Swift in her “Love Story” video — from her friend Jackie Phillips this past Christmas. (Photo submitted)

Editor's Note: Sources close to Kadie Stonebraker's family reported that Kadie passed away earlier this morning, Saturday, Aug. 13.

MARION CENTER — She has a guitar pick and a bracelet from her idol — not to mention a dress just like the one in the music video, but this week, some of the pieces of the puzzle finally came together for four-year-old Kadie Stonebraker.

Thanks to Facebook messages, Tweets and even personal appeals all directed toward Kadie’s idol, Taylor Swift, the 21-year-old country phenomenon made a personal phone call Thursday to Kadie, who has been battling neuroblastoma since October 2008.

Based on social networking alone, Kadie’s mother, Sarah, estimates that about 10,000 people helped get the message to Swift.

“It was crazy,” Sarah said. “I was so touched.”

Neuroblastoma is a type of cancer that begins in nerve tissue of infants and very young children. Sarah had noticed that the whites of Kadie’s eye had a yellow tint, and after blood work and ultrasounds — mere days after her mother’s primary discovery — Kadie was diagnosed with cancer.

Since that time, Kadie has undergone five rounds of chemotherapy, surgery to remove a tumor and another round of chemo. In June 2009, she received a stem cell transplant, followed by more treatments.

Last March, the Stonebraker family — which also includes dad Jake and sisters Gracie and Jo — received the news of zero cancer found in Kadie’s body. But unfortunately, three months after being cancer-free, scans showed more activity in Kadie’s body, and she underwent more chemo, and another cancerous tumor was found on her vertebrae this past March.

Despite the problems she has experienced in her young life, Kadie is able to pull through and keep smiling.

“She has had so many people come forward and support her,” Sarah said.

Over the past few years, friends, family and community members have held numerous events for Kadie, such as benefit dinners,dances, spaghetti dinners, poker runs, bake sales, ticket sales, card tournaments, hunters’ breakfasts and candy bar sales, for the benefit of Kadie and her family.

“A lot of the money raised is from the benefits we have,” Sarah said. “But so much money has come from people we don’t even know.”

One such donation came from a little girl also named Kadie. Both girls talked with each other about their names being spelled the same.

In the later weeks after the girls had met, Sarah found a card sent to Kadie from the other Kadie. Sarah found $10 inside, from the other Kadie’s birthday money, donated to Kadie S. in hopes of her getting better.

“We still have the card and the $10,” said Sarah. “Our community has been so wonderful by coming to events and donating. It is so humbling — there are no words for it.”

Another item that the Kadies had in common: Their love of Taylor Swift.

“She was totally infatuated with Taylor,” Sarah said. “Any time her songs came on, Kadie would scream, ‘Taylor Swift! Taylor Swift!’”

Kadie particularly enjoys Swift’s song, “Love Story.” Last Christmas, any time anyone asked Kadie what she wanted from Santa, she would say the dress from the “Love Story” video.

And thanks to Jackie Phillips, who works in the Punxsutawney Area Hospital ER, Kadie received exactly what she wanted, as Phillips researched the dress and made an exact replica for Kadie for Christmas.

A few months ago, Kadie and 18 other family members and friends had tickets to see Swift at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh. But the morning of the concert, Kadie woke up very sick, hardly able to get out of bed. But she wasn’t giving up her chance to see Swift.

“I kept asking her if she was sure she wanted to go,” Sarah said. “She just kept saying, ‘No Mommy, I want to go.’”

While the entire group hoped to make it backstage so Kadie could meet Swift, that plan didn’t work. Kadie’s cousin, Nicole, however, did meet Swift and told her all about Kadie.

“Kadie’s name is out there now,” Sarah said. “Taylor knows she’s out there and wants to meet her.”

Taylor gave Nicole the guitar picks and a bracelet to give Kadie.

Afterward, friends on Facebook and Twitter joined forces to help Kadie meet Swift. A Facebook page called “Help Kadie Meet Taylor Swift,” set up June 20 drew more than 11,497 friends from all over the world.

Kadie had a second chance to meet Swift during her July 30 concert in Cleveland, and while Sarah said her daughter loved every minute of the concert, she was able to meet only Swift’s guitarist.

These days, Kadie’s condition remains serious, and she is now at her home with her family — luckily, she was home to receive her phone call from Swift, who also sent Kadie a Taylor Swift Barbie doll, a bracelet, a light stick and an autographed picture reading, “I love you, Kadie.”

“She sleeps with her Barbie every night,” Sarah said.

“There have been so many people involved in helping Kadie’s dream come true,” she said. “We all just want to thank everyone, because without them, her dream wouldn’t have came true. I am so deeply, deeply thankful to everyone who made this happen.”

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