Hugs for Haeley Walk-A-Thon

LaGRANGE – Community members are planning to pull together next weekend to show their support for a local who has been fighting for a normal life – and against cystic fibrosis – for most of her life.

Haeley Hardy’s friends and family plan to shower her in the community’s support next Saturday with the Hug for Haeley Walk-A-Thon. The walk-a-thon is free and open to the public, though donations will be accepted.

“I think it will really boost her spirits and show her how many people care and how many people support her,” said Meghan Johnson, Hardy’s sister.

Hardy has been fighting the disease for most of her life, but according to her best friend, she is still just like everyone else and doesn’t let it get her down.

“She doesn’t really let it get to her,” said Jamie Sprayberry, Hardy’s best friend. “She is a normal person just like us.”

But even living a normal life has come with its own challenges for Hardy.

“She couldn’t go to school like a normal child,” said Christy Spates, Hardy’s mother. “She would miss (school), especially during spring and fall and winter. She’d get pneumonia, and she’d get put in the hospital. … For the most part, every three months she’d do a hospital stay.”

Those stays due to cystic fibrosis and its complications have been a part of Hardy’s life since she was a baby.

“Cystic fibrosis is a genetic intestine and lung disease,” said Spates. “She also has cystic fibrosis related diabetes which she is insulin dependent (because of). She was diagnosed at 6 months old.”

Now at 21 years old, Haeley continues her battle with the disease, but her friends and family hope that the support from the walk will provide both Hardy and her family with a much-needed surge of support to encourage them to keep fighting.

“Her life has been really tough,” said Spates. “It is really tough to watch your child fight for her breath because you sit and wonder, is this it?”

The Hugs for Haeley Walk-A-Thon is free to join, though donations will be accepted. The walk is set to begin and end at Sweetland Amphitheatre on Saturday, March 18 starting at noon.

Spates is selling T-shirts that say “Hugs for Haeley” for $20. The funds raised by T-shirt sales will go to Haeley.

Reach Alicia B. Hill at alicia.hill@lagrangenews.com or at 706-884-7311, Ext. 2154.