Community joins family, friends of Ainsley in grieving loss

Ainsley Rose Kargela, a second-grader at Cherry Creek Elementary School in Marquette, passed away Sunday.

The 8-year-old had been battling a rare form of cancer — rhabdomyosarcoma — since 2012. The Marquette area community rallied around Ainsley, creating a group called Ainsley’s Army on Facebook.

Ainsley and her family were the first beneficiaries of the Mom Prom in 2015, as well as car washes, lemonade stands and countless other fundraisers and contributions to help pay for travel expenses and medical care.

In June, teachers, students and staff at Cherry Creek Elementary School gathered together and wore camouflage clothing at the school’s annual field day in support of Ainsley.

The school put together and mailed care packages for Ainsley, and was selling fundraising bracelets, made by Dawn Dott Dance of Marquette, that read “Ainsley’s Angels.”

This was her third time battling the cancer, which was referred to by her family as the “monster.”

However, this little girl was not about to let her illness break her spirits or stand in the way of leading a happy life. Ainsley was a member of a hockey team, Dawn Dott Dance’s dance team, and played soccer. She was described by her second grade teacher Kim Rae as a child who was “very active in the community,” and was cared for greatly by the many people whose lives she has touched.

“Please remember how every single time you saw Ainsley she brought a smile to your face,” the Ainsley’s Army Facebook post states, “how she was always so happy, loving, caring, selfless, an amazing friend, a fighter, a true inspiration to everyone she met — the Ainsley list is endless.”

At the 2014 ESPY Awards, beloved ESPN anchor Stuart Scott received the Jimmy V Award for Perseverance. Scott would pass away the following January of cancer at the age of 49.

During his acceptance speech, he said, “When you die, it does not mean that you lose to cancer. You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and in the manner in which you live.”

In that regard, we would say Ainsley excelled. When someone’s life is cut short in the way hers was, there is always an overwhelming grief and sadness that follows. But when we witness that same person exhibit such perserverance in the face of their disease and show courage beyond their years, it also gives us cause for celebration. Through her life, Ainsley carried a brilliant light that we can all admire and learn something from.

1 Corinthians 15:55 states, “Where, O death, is your victory?” — Ainsley’s life is a perfect reflection of that scripture’s meaning.

Ainsley’s family will receive relatives and friends during a celebration of Ainsley’s life at the Swanson-Lundquist Funeral Home in Marquette from 2-8 p.m. Saturday.

A service of remembrance will be held at the Hope United Methodist Church at 11:30 a.m. Sunday. Condolences may be expressed online at swansonlundquistfuneralhome.com.