A local girl who captured the hearts of thousands as she fought a rare type of cancer lost her battle Christmas morning.
Delaney "Laney" Brown died quietly surrounded by family at her West Reading, Pa. home at 3:10 on Christmas morning.
Family spokesperson, Christopher Winters released this statement on behalf of Laney's family:
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"We are devastated by the loss of our Laney. She was our angel. We will miss her smile, her laughter, and the way she would light up any room she was in. We are eternally grateful for all of the love kindness, prayers and support that we have received from people across the world. You will never know how meaningful it was for all of you to rally around Laney."
Laney died just days after thousands of people gathered outside her home singing Christmas carols, fulfilling her holiday wish to hear Christmas carolers. The 8-year-old spent the day in the hospital fighting to breathe, according to the "Team Laney" Facebook page.
Doctors diagnosed Laney with a form of leukemia, called AML Leukemia, in May 2013.
About a week ago, the Brown family was told the devastating news that a virus was affecting Laney's lungs and that doctors could no longer treat her cancer. As doctors worked to ease Laney's struggle to breathe and relieve her nausea, her family arranged to cross another item off her "bucket list."
Paul Bedard, star of the Animal Planet reality series Gator Boys, visited her in the hospital on Christmas Eve to talk reptiles.
"Laney had been fighting all day to breath [sic] and was exhausted," the Facebook post reads. "But when Paul came in her eyes opened up so brightly with her mouth agape. ...It was pure joy on her face."
When Bedard left, "she closed her eyes and has not opened them since. She is no longer talking either," according to the post. "She is extremely comfortable right now."
The Brown family then took Laney home for Christmas.
The little girl's family remembered her as a "wonderful, kind and loving" child.
"Even as her illness progressed, Laney never stopped having faith, she continued to smile in spite of her pain, and she showed more concern for all of us than for herself. We will miss her every day of our lives and the void she’s left will never be filled. Our sincerest thanks for all that each of you have done. Your prayers and well wishes gave both Laney and us great comfort as we made our way through this very difficult time. We know Laney is in heaven and watching over all of us."
An update posted on the "Team Laney" Facebook page says, "... Our little angel on earth earned her pink glittery angel wings in heaven. ... I miss her so much already."
Funeral plans are pending.