"Love-4-Layla": Local kids help toddler with medical problems
A group of kids in North Georgia is proving you can have a big heart, no matter your size. They've taken it upon themselves to raise money for a local toddler facing multiple medical problems.
Layla Shook lives in Ringgold. She turns two in a few weeks and had her 23rd surgery this week. Knowing her struggles, her 10-year-old cousin and some of her classmates in Dade County, decided to help raise money for her medical expenses, one quarter at a time.
Looking at Layla smile in her bumble bee Halloween costume, you may not realize how much she's been through. She was born with Apert Syndrome. It causes malformations of the skull, face, hands and feet.
"This has been an emotional roller coaster. We started out knowing that she'd have a surgery but never did we think we'd have to have so many surgeries," Layla's mom Lisa Shook said.
As she grows, doctors will have to keep rebuilding her skull and separating her webbed fingers. Those surgeries add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars. That's where her 10-year-old cousin Cailie Pendergrass is trying to help.
"I went to Layla's house and then heard she was having a few surgeries and I'm like 'hmm maybe I can raise money,'" Layla's cousin Cailie Pendergrass said.
She got together with her classmates and started making bracelets and selling them before school at $0.25 each.
"We're just proud of them and they embody the spirit we want every Dade County Elementary School student to have," Principal Tracy Blevins said.
"I can't even explain how excited I was. She's just an angel. I mean my heart was overwhelmed when they told me that," Lisa Shook said.
Thursday the group of Dade County fifth graders beamed with pride as they handed over a check to Layla and her parents for $172.
"I was surprised we could get that much money. It makes me feel kind of happy inside and stuff," Cailie said.
"The news is always about kids bullying and just to see kids that are giving back, it's just wonderful to see," Lisa Shook said.
Layla's family hopes what these kids did shows others that even the smallest kind acts can mean the world. Cailie is just glad to help her baby cousin the best she can.
"I love her a lot. Like all around the world 500 times," Cailie said.
Layla's mom says she'll be able to walk and talk one day like other kids, just on her own schedule. Another Dade County Elementary School student shared Layla's story at her church, where they also took up a special offering.
If you would like more information on helping Layla go to Caring Bridge and type in laylapresleysook