"One of the marvelous things about community is that it enables us to welcome and help people in a way we couldn't as individuals. When we pool our strength and share the work and responsibility, we can welcome many people, even those in deep distress, and perhaps help them find self-confidence and inner healing." - Jean Vanier
When looking at the Facebook page, "Prayers for Krista Peraldo"-dedicated to this local girl's fight against leukemia-the above quote makes perfect sense.
Krista Mae Peraldo, known as "Mae Mae" to those closest to her, is like any other beautiful and bright eight-year-old girl. The second grade Long Drain School student's favorite song is Taylor Swift's "22," and she also likes Justin Beiber and One Direction. Her favorite show is "Shake It Up", she loves gymnastics, and her favorite book is called "The Rainbow Fairy Book." Krista is also described as liking horses and enjoys riding her dirtbike. Stephanie Peraldo, describes her energetic daughter as also having a green thumb. "Anything she puts in dirt grows," Peraldo notes.
Pictured is Krista Peraldo, left, and friend Jana at WVU Children’s Hospital in Morgantown.
Friend of the family, Monica Morris, says that Krista loves crafts, school (especially her teacher at LDS, Sharon Snider), and likes to climb everything. Morris adds that Krista's nickname became "Muddy Mae" due to her love of playing in the dirt. "She could be in the prettiest dress but out in the mud she would have to be," Morris adds.
Morris also describes Krista as having a wild imagination and "knowing no fear." She further describes one time when Krista was younger. "I can remember she decided to just jump in our local pool. No fear . . . she couldn't swim, but up she came with the grandest smile," Morris says.
Perhaps this fearlessness of Krista's is what is helping her through a current battle that no one should ever have to face-leukemia.
Krista's sickness, acute lymphoblastic leukemia, was discovered on Easter Sunday at Mon General Hospital in Morgantown. After the illness was discovered, the family headed to West Virginia University's Children's Hospital where Krista was put into the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. Peraldo says that Krista was there for a week and was put into a medically induced coma on a ventilator. "She had bilateral chest tubes before it was all over," Peraldo states. "They started the medicine and wiped her system out completely. After three weeks, her blood started producing on its own."
Meanwhile, back home the community's support began. "After Easter Sunday, news spread quickly of Krista's leukemia," Morris states. All of us felt helpless, we couldn't go up and didn't want to call and bug them." She adds, "After two days we found out that she has Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia . . . This form of leukemia has a 93 percent curable rate with a two-year maintenance plan."
Morris says that as Krista's parents would update her, she would update Facebook. "Prayers from across the world came through, and cards were sent from literally everywhere."
Morris says that her daughter, Deidre, and friend, Lexi, immediately began making donation jars for all of the stores. "Pictures were posted everywhere and that is when more friends like Nick and Shannon Eastham, Buck Howell, along with the Hundred Sportsmen's Club immediately set up a Turkey Shoot on April 14 to benefit this family. The volunteers and donations were phenomenal!"
"More family friends like Jack and Laura Cartwright purchased a Mossberg 20 Ga. rifle to raffle off at a quickly organized Spaghetti Dinner Benefit on April 18." There is also an event in the works for May 11, in which there will be a few bands performing, a silent auction, as well as food and beverages.
All proceeds from these events have been donated to the Peraldo Family at Union Bank in Hundred under the "Krista Mae Peraldo Benefit Fund".
Morris reports that Long Drain School has even had "Team Krista" bracelets made that include the words "Hope," "Courage," and "Strength." Morris states that one student wore special socks representing Krista for his track meet. "It is overwhelming, the support that has come from the Wetzel and Tyler communities," she adds.
"I've had Krista this year," states LDS Second Grade Teacher Sharon Snider. "She's a very bright young lady. She's very energetic. And I know, in my visits to the hospital and to her home, she is not liking this more stationary lifestyle she has right now. I'd know she'd rather be outside and playing. She misses her classmates and they miss her. They'll bring little cards and pictures and put them in her box so I can take them to her."
Despite the dislike of not being in school, Snider reports that Krista, "is in good spirits though. She knows she has a fight on her hands, but she's ready to fight that fight. She knows there are a lot of people rooting for her, but I miss her greatly. I have 15 other students, but I notice the difference. I miss my Krista. Like I tell some parents, they gave birth to them, but they become my babies too, and I notice when one of them isn't there."
"The staff took spectacular care of her and the family, even the WVU Mountaineer Gymnasts came a few times to see her. The Make a Wish Foundation came and Krista told them she would like to have lunch with Taylor Swift and Justin Beiber at Mount Rushmore," Morris reports. Peraldo states that Krista has not yet turned in the official paperwork for her wish, and she is unsure of how long it'll take to make Krista's wish happen.
Rachel Melott of Wetzel County posted on the Facebook board that her daughter, Beth Reinker, a 29-year-survivor of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, ran in the Nike Women's Half Marathon in Washington, D.C. This marathon benefitted the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS). Melott stated that her daughter would be wearing a "Team Krista" bracelet while running. Leanna Watson also stated that her son's Little League team (Hundred C-Ball Blue) would be wearing shoe blanks the color of orange "in honor of Krista's fight." She added that she thought the other Hundred team was also doing something special as well.
Krista is home right now, but she still has a long road ahead of her. Peraldo reports that her daughter has six months of very aggressive chemotherapy ahead of her, including a spinal tap every Tuesday. For the next six months, Krista will have a different rotation of chemotherapy every four weeks. This six months of chemo will be followed up by another two years of chemo.
Peraldo says that, because of all the germs, Krista will not be allowed to go back to school until part-way through her third grade year.
As for Krista's siblings, Peraldo says that 13-year-old sister Airadeea is a "very, very good girl . . . She's very strong. She's helped out a lot, and she's actually babying Krista pretty good right now." Stephanie says that Krista's five-year-old brother Michael missed her when she wasn't home. "He knows that she's sick, but he doesn't understand the gravity of the situation, which is normal."
Peraldo says that her daughter's spirits have remained mostly up, and that when she asked why this happened, "My only response was that 'God knew we had a very, very strong family, and that He knew everybody would support us and that there are weaker families out there . . . So we are saving another family from destruction.'"
Peraldo says her daughter was very satisfied with this response, with knowing that she was perhaps helping another family. "Three days later her counts were up, and she was ready to come home," she said.
"God gave us a burden to bear," Peraldo says. "We are thankful for that . . . We are thankful that it is happening to us and somebody who may not have been able to handle it . . ."
Likewise, Krista seems to also possess this wise and compassionate mindset. "She can't figure out a way to tell all of those people thank you," Peraldo notes. "She says, 'What can I do that would be a thank you, Mom?'" Peraldo says that, currently, Krista is making a couple of posters to hang up around town, to tell everybody thank you.
Furthermore, "Amongst going through all of this, the one thing Krista asked me . . . She was a little bit upset because she hadn't seen some of her friends in a while . . ." Peraldo goes on to say that she called a mother of one of Krista's friends, but the mom wasn't sure if she could make it because her other daughter was sick. Around this same time, another one of Krista's friend's mother was sick. "Krista wrote herself a note on one of the (dry erase) cabinets that said 'Remember to pray for Ava and Leah's mom every night to get well.'"
Peraldo also adds that Krista will give some bracelets that she made toward the upcoming silent auction, along with a painting she worked on. Peraldo says that her daughter believes that "People help those who help themselves, so she wants to participate in some of her fundraising."
"The entire community has given so much," Peraldo states. We've been trying to get the house in better order and get a kitchen back in." Peraldo explains that there were several home-renovation related projects in progress before Krista got sick. "My mom has been there throughout all of this, trying to get the house in better order. My mother-in-law has been the cook, providing everyone with food . . . There have been a lot of people who have chipped in and have helped." Peraldo names several other members of the community that she wants to thank: "Buck Howell has been here a lot to help with the dry-wall work; Rocky Tennant and Logan Koon, along with Bradley and Dreama Bragg, have delivered wood so there would be heat in the house."
Peraldo also credits Shannon and Nick Eastham, along with Morris for being the "organization parties for all of this . . . Shannon did the raffles and everything. Monica did the spaghetti dinner . . . Shannon and Nick are organizing the concert." Peraldo also mentions Jack Cartwright as being the organizer of the gun auction . . . " Also, "Buck Howell and Nick Howell helped with the organizing of the turkey shoot."
It appears as if the Peraldos would have done the same, had the tables been turned. "Stephanie and John have really given so much to this community and to just anyone that needed help," Morris states. "I have literally seen Steph give her shirt to someone or while at work pay for someone that had no money for groceries. They never have a hand out and are hard working, morally sound, and just the greatest people. John is a coal miner and of course his shifts are crazy. Steph worked at Citgo, ran Girl Scouts, is a former PTA President, a volunteer at the school, and well . . . just a Jill of all Trades!"
"So far we have reached over $11,000 over all and it is going toward the needs-Kristas medical, transportation, home needs, food, lodging, and well just whatever is needed," notes Morris. "There is a long road ahead for Krista, but everyone has lots of positivity and tons of faith!"
A Monday evening post on the "Prayers for Krista" Facebook board revealed some positive news. Krista's doctor is considering her in remission as of right now, barring any unforeseen complications or serious illnesses.
However, Krista will still have to go through her treatments. "They'll do periodic bone marrow tests to make sure her body continues to produce healthy cells," Peraldo stated. "It may very well hit again, but as of right now, whatever little blood her body is producing, it's healthy."
Peraldo added that she still hopes everyone keeps Krista in their prayers, especially considering the surgery she will undergo May 7. This surgery will be a port placement for the rest of her chemo.
Perhaps a quote Krista's father, John Peraldo, referenced, best describes Krista's fight well: "God gives his strongest warriors, His hardest jobs.