End of Summer Bash honors memory of Harrison Co. girl

End of Summer Bash to honor the memory of a Harrison Co. girl
Published: Aug. 30, 2023 at 3:34 PM EDT
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CYNTHIANA, Ky. (WKYT) - Birthdays for any child are a big deal, no matter the age.

For one Harrison County family, a birthday for their little girl this year is bittersweet.

In this Commonwealth of Kindness report, how her family is turning their sadness into a way to give back in honor of a little girl who touched a lot of lives.

When school started this fall at Westside Elementary in Cynthiana, there was something missing.

“It’s hard, but so much of Sadie is still at this school,” said Hilary Gaunce.

Sadie Gaunce might not be a student here, but her presence is felt from the time you walk up the sidewalk and all throughout the building. Her mom Hilary Gaunce remembers her little girl as fun, loving and full of life.

Her dad, Clint, says his little girl was very creative and liked to paint and color anything.

And little sister Ryleigh remembers Sadie for her love of spaghetti. It’s easy for all three to talk about their beloved Sadie.

What isn’t easy is to think about why she is no longer here with them.

“On Jan 6, we went to Kentucky Children’s to have a cyst removed from the top of her head, and we got a call that night at 7 that the cyst was positive for lymphoma cells,” said Hilary Gaunce.

That same week Sadie started chemotherapy and, for the next two months, made UK Children’s Hospital in Lexington her home.

Through it all, Sadie seemed to always have a smile, her family trying to put on a brave face.

“I think that God gives you strength when you don’t know you have it,” said Hilary Gaunce.

In March, Sadie lost her battle with lymphoma and never got to finish the first grade.

“I just feel like something is always missing, that everywhere I go, I am forgetting something,” said Clint Gaunce.

“You can be fine, and then something can strike or even a song can just make you miss her even more,” said Hilary Gaunce.

Her fellow classmates feel that loss too, so in what would have been her second-grade classroom, her memory lives on.

A monkey sits in her desk with her nameplate.

It’s gestures like that one that tells you just how much of an impact Sadie made.

From day one her entire community in Harrison Co. rallied around the family.

“We got home from the hospital, we had a stack of cards that were from people we didn’t even know that had sent us cards and money,” said Hilary Gaunce.

As the Gaunce’s approach Sadie’s birthday on September 4, they plan to use the day to give back.

They are hosting Sadie’s End of Summer Bash at Flat Run Park, a day set aside full of fun for their community and a way to return just some of the kindness they have received.

“I hope they realize we are giving back to them, also just as a thank you. We were just mind blown by everything they pulled together for us,” said Hilary Gaunce.

For a little girl who didn’t always love the spotlight, it would seem her light is shining extra brightly. Sadie Drew Gaunce, a reminder of the big life this little girl lived in seven short years.

Sadie’s End of Summer Bash is Monday, September 4, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. There is a color run/walk in her honor, inflatables, games, and food.

The event is free and open to the public.