Following Grand Homecoming Hailee Cunningham Passes

Published 03/16 2014 10:14PM

Updated 03/16 2014 10:24PM

It may have been an icy cold and wet afternoon in Gibson County, but those who lined the streets dressed in pink and holding signs of encouragement were warmed by feelings of inspiration. Inspiration that comes from an innocent and humbling place, 6-year-old Hailee Cunningham's long fight with cancer.

"The fight that she has put up with to this point is just inspiring to all of us as a community." Deputy Dan Lienemann of the Gibson County Sheriff's Office helped organize Hailee's homecoming from Riley Children's Hospital. He planned on himself and another deputy escorting Hailee from the Gibson County line to her home in Fort Branch, but the plan grew much larger than he imagined. "I get out there this afternoon once I firmed up the time frame. There's 20 fire trucks lined up and 20 different law enforcement agencies all lined up on I-69 wanting to just be apart of coming together to support her and her family."

What's so impressive about Hailee's story is the scope of people she has reached. Some far, some just a few houses down. Most mailboxes flew a pink ribbon in honor of Hailee, Vicki Whitehouse supported Hailee with a sign calling her by her nickname, the "Warrior Princess." Whitehouse is just an acquaintance of the Cunningham's, but still feels connected with them because of Hailee's inspiring public battle with cancer. "They'll have someone that they can go and talk to at any given time. I'm sure that they community and their friends will say 'if you need me I don't care if it's three o'clock in the morning you call me.'" said Whitehouse.

Sadly Hailee passed away shortly after returning home. Some are finding comfort in knowing her final hours were a celebration of life with a community touched by her unfaltering strength. "Today means a lot to all of us here. She is back home in Gibson County and that's where we want her to be," said Deputy Lienemann.

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