After Public Battle with Cancer, Cunningham's Ask for Privacy

6-year-old Hailee Cunningham received a grand homecoming fit for a hero. She used her illness to inspire many across the Tri-State, but after passing away shortly after returning home her family is asking for privacy to grieve properly.
The American flag flies at half mast at the Cunningham home. A somber sight compared to the grand homecoming Hailee Cunningham received Sunday. "The emergency service personnel in Gibson County wanted to give her a homecoming fit for a hero, because that's what we believe she is," said Sgt. Bruce Vanoven of the Gibson County Sheriff's Office. Shortly after she returned home Hailee went on to where all heroes eventually go. "Whenever I heard the news I knew that this was not the end for her, but only the beginning of a new life. Because her family believes and I believe there is life after death," said Sgt. Vanoven.

The Cunningham's joined Vertical Church about a year and a half ago just after Hailee was diagnosed with cancer. "When children are attacked, when children are diagnosed with cancer, it's horrible because we always have the question, why?" Pastor Steve Akins has been with Vertical Church for 12 years.  He was able to witness the great joy in Hailee's return home, followed by the great sadness in seeing her pass. "That switch of emotion to jubilation to supreme sorrow...it's hard to make that turn.  It's hard for anybody to make that emotional turn." Hailee had a very public fight with cancer, using her illness to inspire. Now that she has passed the Cunningham family is asking for privacy to grieve in a way that few could understand. "One of the worst things we every say to people is 'I know how you feel' because we really don't.  I think it's very appropriate and healthy to do this (grieve) privately," said Pastor Akins.

While many lined the streets Sunday to welcome Hailee home it is now the family's wishes to be left alone to mourn the loss of their "Warrior Princess."

A fund has been set up for the Cunningham family at any Fifth Third Bank. Visitation for Hailee will be on Thursday at Vertical Church in Fort Branch.
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