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Dutchess, Orange Communities Turn On Lights For Girl Battling Leukemia

Area residents are putting pink lights outside to support a 5-year-old with cancer.
Area residents are putting pink lights outside to support a 5-year-old with cancer. Photo Credit: Kelsey's Krusaders/Facebook

Sometimes it takes a village, or several entire towns, to send good vibes and wishes to a 5-year-old girl giving it her all as she battles a rare form of Leukemia.

That's what's happening in Wappingers, Wappingers Falls, Monroe, Woodbury, where hundreds have all rallied behind the kindergartener, Kelsey Berger who attends Sheaf Road Elementary School in Wappingers Falls.

The outpouring of love and support all started in Monroe, where Kelsey's father, Chris Berger, is the principal at Smith Clove Elementary School in the Monroe Woodbury school district.

When word got out that Kelsey was suffering from cancer, teachers, students and other employees at the school got together to come up with ways to make the once smiling, joyful little girl smile again, said Sue Adler, a teacher at the school.

Because Kelsey loves the movie "Trolls," the group came up with the name "Kelsey's Krusaders" and began selling brightly-colored tie-dyed T-shirts, hosting fundraisers, candlelight vigils and even made a video for her complete with her favorite songs and dancing from the movie.

"We thought the words from the main song, '"I will get back up again, were perfect,'" said Adler.

But once word got out about Kelsey's plight, the effort morphed from the school to local businesses, to police departments, to local governments, and to thousands of residents.

"We've sold more than 2,000 t-shirts and everyone holds fundraisers," Adler said. "It's been an amazing thing to watch happen."

When recent word got out that Kelsey wasn't doing so great after her second bone marrow transplant, and that she loved the color pink, people across the region have put pink light bulbs in their outside lights so there is a sea of pink for miles in some areas.

When Kelsey saw pictures and videos of the pink lights it brought a smile to the face of the once "joyful and full-of-life" little girl, Adler said.

The family sent a message via Facebook saying: "You know what you guys did?? When Kelsey saw... pictures of her street lit up, it brought the biggest smile to her face. What a gift you gave her, her parents and her family with that one smile. Thank you, Wappingers! Let’s go, Monroe!!"

"I just can't believe the way this thing has taken off," Adler said. "It's simply amazing."

But most importantly, she added, hopefully, all of the lights, prayers, and T-shirts will bring comfort to Kelsey and help her fight to come home again.

A Facebook page, dubbed "Kelsey's Krusaders" has been started for people to offer words of encouragement and for the family to offer updates. A quick look shows reams of posts of smiling people young and old with their tie-dyed shirts offering smiles and words of encouragement to Kelsey and her family. (There's also a great tip, that if you can't find pink light bulbs to use a pink Sharpie to color a clear one).

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