When friends and strangers heard that 6-year-old Kelly Evans of Cypress was battling a terminal illness, they raised more than $13,000 for the family.
Western Medical Center in Santa Ana collected most of the money and bags full of letters, cards, gifts and clothing from people who wanted to help make Kelly’s last days happy, hospital officials said.
The hospital spent part of the money on a few Christmas presents, clothing and food for the family.
The hospital, which is in control of the money, also paid two overdue car payments for Kelly’s mother, Leslie Evans.
The rest of the money will be used to pay for funeral expenses for Kelly, who has had rhabdomyosarcoma, a soft-tissue cancer that attacks the muscles, for three years.
Kelly has been at Western Medical Center for the past three weeks undergoing chemotherapy.
From her hospital bed Thursday, Kelly said she felt weak and didn’t feel like talking.
She said she enjoyed all the gifts she received.
Among the gifts were dozens of toys, a dress fit for a princess, tickets to Walt Disney’s World on Ice show in Anaheim and to the Glory of Christmas progran at the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove.
She also received touching letters from Orange County Jail prisoners and other strangers.
“All these nice things that people did for us gives me great peace of mind,” said Leslie Evans.
She was laid off from her job as a used-clothing store manager in June, stopped receiving unemployment checks on Christmas Day and was in danger of having her car repossessed.
“All the love and support we’ve been receiving is so incredible,” she said. “Now I don’t have the burden of worrying about everyday expenses, and I can concentrate on keeping Kelly company at the hospital.”
Kelly’s father, Martin Evans, who watched as doctors wheeled Kelly into another room for tests on Thursday, said he didn’t know anything about the donations but was glad to see his daughter happy.
“She’s a great little girl,” Martin Evans said about his daughter. Kelly’s illness “is the worst thing in my whole life.”
Kelly lives with her mother, siblings and grandparents in Cypress and spends two weekends a month and one evening a week with her father, who lives in Fullerton.
“My main concern is Kelly,” Martin Evans said. “I want her to have the best life for the time that she’s going to be here. All I’m concerned about is that she doesn’t go through any kind of pains.”
The community’s generosity has eased Leslie Evans’ concerns over how she’s going to make ends meet, she said.
Also, C&W; Billing in Garden Grove offered Leslie Evans a customer service job, which she will begin next month.
Cigna HealthCare Center in Orange, where Kelly receives blood transfusions and weekly check-ups, raised $894 for the Evans family.
Cigna officials said they asked the staff to help raise money for Kelly’s mother and gave her the money earlier this month.
Leslie Evans said it helped cover the cost of some of Kelly’s extra medical expenses. The bulk of her medical expenses are paid for through Martin Evans’ insurance.
“Leslie was having a very hard time financially, and we love Kelly very much, so we decided to help,” said Verna Myung, one of Kelly’s nurses at Cigna.
“The outpouring of response from the community has been unbelievable,” said Linda Silverman, Western Medical’s oncology social worker.
“This love for Kelly reaffirms our faith in the goodness of humanity.”