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    Support stays strong for 12-year-old meningitis victim

    10:00 PM, Jul 29, 2013   |    comments
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    LITTLE ROCK (KTHV) - Support and prayers are only getting stronger right now for a 12-year-old Benton girl who was struck with a rare form of meningitis after a recent swimming outing.

    THV 11 followed up on Monday to speak with Kali Hardig's mother and best friend,12-year-old Tristin Williams. His is a voice we haven't heard yet and one that is still coming to grips with this tragedy.

    "We hunt for Easter eggs on Easter," Williams said. "We fish, we play."

    From the holidays to the regular days, Tristin Williams loves hanging out with his best friend, Kali Hardig.

    "She's funny," Williams said.

    But lately, that fun has been put on hold after a rare swimming illness put Kali in the hospital for parasitic meningitis. That's a brain infection, which the Centers for Disease Control said can be fatal.

    "Like every hour I just think about her and hopes she gets better," Williams said.

    Williams' parents gave us permission to speak with him for this story. He said that he's been to the hospital to see his friend.

    "It's scary, kind of," Williams said.

    It's tough to understand for a 12-year-old, but this guy knows what to do now.

    "It has Kali's name, and it says 'Fight like a girl," Williams said, showing us the bracelets that he's made for his friend. He's distributing these bracelets in honor of Kali while at the hospital. Members of Kali's family are wearing special T-shirts.

    "Everybody knows who you're with when you got one of these shirts on," said Kali's Aunt Deana McPeak.

    Her aunt and mother are wearing "Kali's Krew" T-shirts with the Number 3.

    "The significance is we want Kali to be the third survivor of this amoeba because she would be the third one to ever survive it," Kali's Mom Traci Hardig said.

    Her mom said that Kali remains in a medically-induced coma and is on dialysis now 24-7, but on Monday, a moment with Dad showed some promise.

    "He felt her hand twitch on his thumb while he was holding it," Hardig said.

    It's something to feel good about for "Kali's Krew" and Tristin, who feels his best friend can pull through.

    "Yes, she's a very tough girl," Williams said.

    As for those "Kali's Krew" T-shirts, Hardig said they were donated, and the shirts are so popular, the family ordered around 120 more on Monday for folks in the community.

    Kali's story is also getting national attention. A hospital spokeswoman told THV 11 that a network morning show was on the way after our crew left.

    The Arkansas State Health Department is investigating a case of parasitic meningitis in the state and Willow Springs in Little Rock voluntarily shut down. Because of privacy laws, the agency cannot officially link this case to Kali, but we know from her parents that doctors at Children's have diagnosed her with the illness.

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