Ten-year-old Hailey Conroy has always loved to sing. Despite being diagnosed last November with leukemia, the Grade 5 student is still singing.
“I’ve been teaching her music for the last few years,” said Gledhill Junior Public School’s Heather Bailey. “I’ve been able to see that artistic, creative, fun, musical side of her, and it’s really nice to see that, despite what’s going on right now, she’s still keeping such a positive, happy spirit.”
After Hailey took a couple of falls in 2017, X-rays revealed that she had compression fractures. She was put on the waiting list for the bone clinic.
Her mother, Patricia Baranyai, said that during this time, Hailey was not recovering properly and had mobility problems that resulted in her having to stay in bed for a month and miss two months of school.
After going through physiotherapy sessions, Hailey’s walking improved. But then there were the spells of random fevers and a rash that came when she was under the sun.
Eventually she was diagnosed and started treatment right away.
“We just finished three months of treatment,” Baranyai said. “The first month was not too bad, but the next two months were more difficult because sometimes it was four days a week. There were a lot of spinal taps and chemo.”
In order to be with Hailey through all her treatments, Baranyai has had to shift her focus away from her job where she runs her own jewelry-making business and sells jewelry at different shows to support Hailey and her older brother, Oliver Conroy.
Hailey’s father, Kevin Conroy, previously assisted Baranyai during the shows, but he could no longer help out after falling ill.
To help pay for family bills, Baranyai has set up a Go Fund Me page (https://www.gofundme.com/healingforhailey).
Through it all, Hailey has remained both brave and resilient.
“She has a lot of fears that she has to face a lot, but she’s facing them even though she’s scared,” her mother said. “She’s a really positive and joyous person.”
Hailey has so much love for singing and music, she was given the nickname Haileybird.
“I understand why she has the name Haileybird, because she’s a very musical girl,” said Bailey, who has organized fundraising events including Hearts for Hailey and Light Up the Night for Hailey.
During Hearts for Hailey, which took place on Feb. 5, 7 and 9, handmade paper hearts were sold at Gledhill Junior Public School as part of Valentine’s Day.
Eager students gathered on the second floor to buy red hearts for their friends.
Boxes filled to the brim also included free pink hearts that students used to send special Valentine’s Day messages to Hailey.
“This is something we thought would be a great initiative to support a member of our school family, and we really want to help Hailey and her family in this really difficult time,” Bailey said.
The school principal, Cathy McAleese, spoke about the support from the teachers and students to Hailey’s family.
“I think the school has a real sense of community and they want to help. The students and staff come together. They support one of their own,” McAleese said.
McAleese, along with three teachers, delivered the Valentines to Hailey themselves. They each also brought a gift for Hailey for Valentine’s Day.
“It’s really so touching,” Baranyai said. “I mean, I find that I almost sometimes can’t think about it because it’s so much love that I’ve never known, so much love and support, it makes me want to cry when I think about it.”
Gledhill Junior Public School teachers Emma Pace and Agnieszka Kopka helped out at the Light Up the Night for Hailey event on Feb. 15. While glow sticks and glow necklaces were sold all week at school, Pace and Kopka helped sell more to those who participated in a walk around the school that evening in support of Hailey. In total, more than 300 glow necklaces were sold.
That night also happened to be parent-teacher interview night, and Andrea Nichols Egan, who is on the Parent Council, was helping out.
“I think the teachers have really done a lot to organize the Hearts for Hailey and the bake sale that was attached to our movie night a few weeks ago,” she said. “The teachers and the council worked on that together. It’s been fantastic, and I understand that they delivered the Valentines to Hailey yesterday and that she was really appreciative of them.”
Students Zauraiz Khan, 12, and Jackson Graham, 11, held their own little fundraiser during Light Up the Night for Hailey. They sold original artwork and decorated cups with apple juice and homemade butterbeer.
The proceeds from all the events will go to Hailey’s family to help pay their bills.
Meanwhile, the school will continue to show support by holding more fundraisers.
“We have a couple of things that we’re thinking about for later in the spring towards the May and June months, but no final details as of yet,” Bailey said.
Meanwhile, Baranyai is touched by the show of support.
“This school year, I had on my mind that I wanted to do more for the school, to raise funds. Then this happened with Hailey and the tables have turned and they’re doing so much for us,” she said. “So I feel guilty because I had intended to do something for the school and instead it’s the other way around, but at the same time I’m incredibly appreciative.”