Little girl with cancer is face of Tallassee's Relay for Life - Montgomery Alabama news.

Little girl with cancer is face of Tallassee's Relay for Life


There is a different kind of battle going on at 'Hot' O'Brien Stadium in Tallassee and it's not a spring football game. You won't hear loud cheers but more of a quiet power to help save an 11-year old's life.

"She's contracted pneumonia and is in ICU,' said Julie Burkhalter.

Her name is McKenzie Ray and she's battling Leukemia at Children's Hospital. Burkhalter is Ray's grandmother and hopes 'walkers' participating in this year's Relay For Life in the stadium will take the swab test to see if they're a bone marrow match for McKenzie.

"The test will be sent off and then they'll be more testing to make sure the potential donor isn't sick," Burkhalter said.

Stephanie King swabbed her mouth, something she felt called to do for a little girl who in essence has no immune system at the moment.

"A friend of mine's son was recently diagnosed with Leukemia and this hit home to me," said King.

In all Julie Burkhalter brought 250 swab kits to the Relay For Life event. Burkhalter is confident the kits will be gone by the time event ends around one Saturday morning.

"Even if they're not a match for McKenzie which I hope to God someone will they could be match for someone else," said Burkhalter.

We're told there are between 14,000 and 15,000 people on a waiting list for bone marrow in the United States. The type of Leukemia McKenzie has is curable. The challenge is to find a match and soon. Burkhalter tells WSFA 12 News no one in McKenzie's family proved to be a match.

On this 20th anniversary of Relay For Life Julie Burkhalter is counting on this being the milestone when McKenzie turns the corner in her cancer fight.

"We have a lot of hope,' she said.

Burkhalter saw a little of that hope today. So far 20 people have taken the swab test.

Copyright 2014 WSFA 12 News.  All rights reserved.

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