Callie Cheer’s brightness comes from more than her name. Her lively spirit is evident to anyone who has seen her smile radiate from beneath a pink flowered headband. The Smyrna girl’s sweet nature is something rare, but especially for a child who’s spent the past few months fighting to survive.
In Sept. 2011 Callie, then 2-years-old, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, type M7. Initially the diagnosis was grim with doctors telling Callie’s mother and stepfather, Kathy and Ryan Burton, that she had a 50-50 chance at survival.
“Our early diagnosis was just horrific,” Ryan Burton told the Marietta Daily Journal. “My wife and I were having very real conversations about life without (Callie). We had to accept that the outcome of this could be something very, very bad.”
Burton, who takes classes at Emory University, shared news of Callie’s diagnosis with his classmates. Caled Eleman, a classmate and the lead singer of the band No Parachute, approached Burton about having a benefit in Callie’s honor.
The “Concert for Callie” is set for Saturday, Feb. 4 at Tavern 99 at 128 E. Andrews Road in Buckhead. No Parachute performs with Sailing to Denver. A minimum $10 donation to CURE Childhood Cancer is required for admission.
When the concert began to take shape, the Burtons knew immediately what nonprofit they thought should benefit.
“From the moment we got here CURE has just been wonderful from providing meals to providing care packages to just being very present in the hospital everyday, Kathy Burton said. “They’re just very involved and I felt an overwhelming sense of gratitude to them. And then we got to meet some of the people that are part of the organization that have been affected by childhood cancer and everybody is just so sweet—just amazing people.”
Callie has made quite an impression on CURE Childhood Cancer’s volunteers as well as her doctors.
“She’s an unbelievably intelligent, articulate 3-year-old,” Kathy Burton said. “She’s just so brave and strong. Everybody falls in love with her when they meet her. She’s a go-getter. The doctors come in and she’ll say, ‘What’s your name?” And they’ll say, ‘Dr. Smith,’ and she’ll say, ‘Pleased to be meet you.’”
Callie’s indomitable spirit is likely the reason she has responded so well to treatment. She has been in remission since Oct. 13 and is scheduled to leave Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston next week following the completion of her last round of chemotheraphy.
Donations may be made in Callie’s honor at CURE Childhood Cancer’s website.