Grace Brethren Church will host its fifth annual Hannah Grace Broyles Memorial Blood Drive on Sunday afternoon in honor of the little girl with cancer who taught church members not to fear.
Diagnosed at age 5 with stage four nueroblastoma, Hannah went through two bone marrow transplants and at least a dozen rounds of chemotherapy before she died in the summer of 2006 at age 8.
“We had her three years there we didn’t think we were going to have her,” Hannah’s mother, Tina Broyles, said. “I am very thankful to people who went and gave blood during that because without blood that people gave, she wouldn’t have made it. When you have chemo, your platelets and white count drop. You have to have blood or you won’t make it. Hannah got platelets and blood many times.
“She touched a lot of people in those three years. People still call me and talk about that, friends we have on Facebook still send me notes and little things. ... It amazed (people) the strength that little girl had.”
Kim Jaynes was one of those people. She met Hannah at church, and when she became ill, Jaynes said, “she became the church’s child.”
“I was 50 years old and I had never given blood. I didn’t like needles. But when she got sick I realized what kids like Hannah go through and that they have to put up with needles all the time.”
Jaynes began giving blood. The summer after Hannah died, she organized Grace Brethren’s first blood drive in her memory and has continued the drive on the anniversary of her death every year since then.
“We’ve never had less than 50 people give, and there are more than who come and want to give but won’t be able to on that day. People come because of her, because of this little girl. She was wise beyond her years. She was wise in her belief. She was a lovely young girl and she taught us all.”
According to her mother, Hannah loved church missions and she loved to give money people gave to her to the missionaries Grace Brethren sponsored in Haiti. When construction of the church Grace Brethren built in Haiti was completed, Jaynes said, the missionaries named the church in Hannah’s honor.
When other children were fighting, her mother said “Hannah played the peacemaker.” She enjoyed drawing pictures, making cards and writing notes and kept her mom busy sending them for her. And in the weeks before her death, she began to talk happily about going to heaven.
A young nurses’ aide who cared for her at St. Jude and later went on to medical school wrote a paper that listed Hannah as the reason she decided to become a doctor. That woman is now an intern and remains in touch with the family.
“In her short eight years, she touched more people than we will ever touch,” Tina Broyles said. “She loved life. She lived for the moment. She made the most of it.
“This is the fifth year of the blood drive and it’s to give back to everybody who supported us through giving blood, with cards they sent us or calls to us. Whatever they did, this is to give back to everybody.”