Community rallying behind dying girl

Caroling will serenade Delaney Brown at her West Reading home Saturday

Community rallying behind dying girl

WEST READING, Pa. - In the face of devastating news, a Berks County community is doing everything it can to bring a brave little girl some happiness as her battle with cancer comes to an end.

Delaney Brown was back home with her family Thursday night. The little girl turned eight on Friday, but doctors said she has only days to live after her cancer took a turn for the worse.

One of the items on her bucket list was to see carolers, and the community is working to make that dream come true.

West Reading police, fire police and sheriff's deputies are preparing for hundreds, possibly thousands, of people to travel to West Reading on Saturday evening to carol for Laney.

Many of those people have never met her, but that is not stopping them from making the little girl's wish come true.

"It is just one of those stories that everybody wants to tell and it truly is heartbreaking, yet heartwarming," said Scott Hertzog, with Western Berks Relay for Life.

Laney is a little girl who has reached the hearts of thousands across Berks County. She has been battling cancer for nearly seven months.

After many ups and downs in her prognosis, Laney's family got the worst news just days before her 8th birthday: Doctors told them Laney has 70 percent cancer cells in her blood and has only days to live.

"She is just strong. She is beautiful, and she just has so much passion and love and kindness. She is warm and she is a wonderful little girl," said Laney's dance teacher, Megan Delp.

After receiving the heartbreaking news, Laney wanted to cross some items off her bucket list, and that included having carolers sing to her.

The local Relay for Life team heard about Laney's wish and was initially expecting about 50 people to come out and sing, but then it exploded.

"By afternoon, the word had started spreading and thousands of people started liking the Facebook page and Christmas caroling for Laney and it has gone viral," said Hertzog.

The Team Laney Facebook page gained more than 10,000 followers in just one day.

Now, the West Reading Police Department, along with volunteers from fire police and the sheriff's department, is stepping in to shut down the 400 block of Chestnut Street and help direct the carolers on Saturday night.

"It is the holiday season and this is just a heart-wrenching story. I know I am personally going to be there. I know most of my command staff will be there volunteering their time," said Berks County Sheriff Eric Weaknecht.

Laney is back home with her family and is asking the public for privacy. Many in the community are praying for a Christmas miracle.

More information about Saturday's caroling:

The caroling is scheduled for Saturday from 7 p.m. until 8 p.m.

The 400 block of Chestnut Street in West Reading will be closed to parking and through traffic from 4 p.m. to midnight on Saturday. If you plan to attend, park in Reading Hospital's 7th Street garage.

Organizers have been working with family, local law enforcement, local media outlets and other organizations to hold a respectful and successful event to fulfill the dreams and wishes of Laney.

To facilitate a well-organized event, the organizers are announcing scheduling details that need to be followed by those attending the event:

At 4 p.m., police will block off all traffic and parking in the 400 block of Chestnut Street in West Reading.

Pedestrian traffic will be allowed but again we ask everyone to respect the privacy of the family.

At 5 p.m., the primary parking lot, Reading Hospital's parking lot at 7th and Spruce streets and the secondary lot at Vanity Fair (McDonald's) at 8th and Penn avenues will be open for public parking.

After leaving their vehicles, the public is asked to follow the pink and orange balloons to the 400 block of Chestnut Street or ride one of the shuttles provided by Reading Health System. The public is asked to respect the people of West Reading and do not park on the borough streets. Instead, utilize the previously mentioned parking lots.

At approximately 6 p.m., the police will begin to allow the public into the 400 block of Chestnut Street.

At 7 p.m., radio station Y102 will lead those gathered in carols with the goal to end caroling at 8 p.m.

The public should not bring gifts; instead, anyone who wishes to help the family during this difficult time please visit and contribute whatever you are able at the Team Laney designated fundraising site.

Organizers said there will be no solicitation or collection of contributions at any time before, during or after the caroling event.

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