Community bids farewell to Brylee, supports family in their time of need
The Castle Country community came together one final time Saturday to celebrate the life of Brylee Olson. The three-year-old succumbed to a rare form of cancer on May 19, but because of her family's love and several children's organizations, the Price native was able to see and accomplish more than most do in a typical lifespan. On May 31, the Bring it for Brylee Carnival allowed the community say goodbye while helping the Olson family to cope with the cost of a battling cancer.
"The effect Brylee had on people was amazing," said her mother Lara Olson, as she talked about the response to anything in which Brylee was involved. "People from all across the world have called to tell us about the joy and the difference our daughter brought to their lives. The strength her story gives is incredible."
After spending far too much time at the doctor's office when her daughter was young, Lara began researching the many different illnesses her child was experiencing. When she finally put it all together and took her fears to a specialist, her worst assumptions came true. Bylee was diagnosed with Diffused Intrinsic Pontine Gliona or DIPG, a fast growing cerebral tumor that kills 95 percent of the children diagnosed inside of nine months. The other five percent can last for up to three years.
"That's where 'Brylee in Five' came from," said Olson. "We knew she was strong enough to be part of the five percent who would live as long as possible."
Brylee passed away just two days short of her fourth birthday, gaining entrance into the five percent, even after being given a definite death sentence.
Working with Children and the Earth, a small children's wishes foundation out of Sandy, her family created a "bucket list," following her diagnosis. There hope was to create all the memories they could for as long as they could.
Some of the things Brylee was able to enjoy included feeding the elephants at Hogle Zoo, having an Alice in Wonderland tea party and many many others.
A large group of Utah team mascots came by her home last September, showing just how much love she had garnered from around the state.
Brylee was sent home for hospice care on April18, allowing her to be home with her family.
"She was an amazing little girl right from birth and she never stopped being an angle," said Lara.
Saturday's "Bring it for Brylee" Fundraiser was organized for the Olson family by Amber Walker, who knows the burden this family must now shoulder.
According to the Olsons, Brylee's treatment has easily cost several million dollars. In fact, one of the more recent chemotherapy treatments, cost more than the Olson family home every time it was administered.
"There was such an amazing turnout and I know people have so much going on in their lives," said Olson, discussing the weekend fundraiser. "And while people would come up and give their condolences once in a while, people were happy for the most part and the kids were having a good time and that was what Brylee was about. She lifted everyone's spirit, and she is still doing that."
While this will most likely be the last public celebration of Brylee's life. Her father Corey Olson and Lara are working on a Brylee in Five Foundation. Their idea so far is to have several fundraisers throughout Utah each year, working to help the families of those diagnosed with DIPG.