Kiersten’s kindness remembered by community

In February of 2018, Kiersten Trantham, then a 10-year-old girl living in Walnut Grove, was diagnosed with cancer. Over the next 16 months, she fought bravely against her illness, determined to beat cancer, but her fight came to an end when she succumbed on Thursday, June 27.
Carman Booker, Kiersten’s aunt, described her as someone who loved to spread laughter to people around her.
“She has always been the light in any room,” Booker said. “She spread joy and laughter to everyone.  It was always her goal to make others smile and laugh. It got her into trouble in school because she enjoyed making her classmates laugh. She would dance, and sing, and make silly faces all to bring joy to herself and others.”
When Kiersten learned she had cancer, Booker said, she was, naturally, “upset and scared,” as was her family. However, she still spread cheer to the people around her.
“She was so brave, and she did her best to continue to be herself, making others laugh and smile,” Booker said.
Booker said one major source of consolation for Kiersten during her illness was animals.
“They were always important to her and after becoming sick they were her refuge,” Booker said. “She wasn’t able to return to school and we had to limit time out in public to avoid sickness and to avoid exhaustion. She would spend time with her dogs, her cat, her fish, and we would go into the fields and she would spend time with her bottle calves ... and her donkey.”
Booker also said Kiersten’s love for animals gave her a special connection with them.
Kiersten was especially fond of the Polk County Animal Shelter in Bolivar and Petco, and she want- ed to help them take care of their animals.
“The employees of these places knew her, loved her, and treated her with kindness and they treated her like (she was) ‘normal,’” Booker said. “They became her friends, especially at the shelter, and they always made time for her. After they developed this bond and she understood the needs of the shelter, it was her mission to give to them. She would take all of the money she had and buy items needed for the shelter.”
While Kiersten wanted to help others, others wanted to help her. The community rallied around her, and sup- ported her and her family with food, help with their farm work, and money for expenses. A benefit auction was held for her, a girl at her school created and sold Team Kiersten bracelets, Team Kiersten    T-shirts    were    purchased by people from across the country, and people donated blood in her name. At Ash Grove High School, fundraisers included a volleyball tournament and an FFA chili supper; the class of 2018 also collected $400 for her.
“So many of our Walnut Grove and Ash Grove friends would wear her T- shirt, take a picture and post it randomly; saying how they were thinking of her and praying for her,” Booker said. “All of the posts to her Team Kiersten page were full of prayers and love. People would donate blood in her name; (that) was very important to us. Family and friends who would show up to the farm and offer to work to help us catch up, knowing that our time was being spent on her and her health. The Ash Grove ag students and their teacher Mr. Isakson have shown us so much support and love; they have worked on the farm, fed us, stopped in to check on us, raised money to help us, and they have prayed over us.”
With Kiersten’s passing, the community has continued to support her family.
“The outpouring of love and support has been overwhelming,” Booker said. “Phone calls, food, donations in her name to the shelter and donations to her mommy to help pay for the funeral expenses. The Griffin family donated so much to us and cut our cost so low, they surprised us with a beautiful mural on top of her burial vault. They loved us and supported us through the mostdifficulttimesinour lives.”
To honor Kiersten, Booker said, her family plans to take “gifts” to the animal shelter in her name; they also encourage others who want to honor her to donate to their local animal shelter in Kiersten’s name.
Booker said that in her brief life, Kiersten set an example of love and selflessness that inspired those around her.


Lawrence County Record

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