Jul 29, 2016 10:23 PM
Celebration of life held for Rochester girl who met Justin Bieber
ROCHESTER – Hundreds of people gathered tonight to celebrate the life of Karlee Drew, the ten-year-old girl who died after battling a rare form of cancer for the last three years.
Drew had a rare form of leukemia called myelofibrosis. The cancer went into remission, but came back last year. She died on Saturday surrounded by her family and friends.
“We have been touched by an angel,” said Lee Peters at the celebration. “We will always be touched by an angel.”
Drew captured the hearts of people across the state and beyond when her dying wish came true. Earlier this summer, Drew met singer Justin Bieber when he was performing in Boston. Drew was known to her friends and family as Bieber's number one fan, and Make-A-Wish helped her dream come true.
The celebration of life was held at the American Legion on Eastern Avenue in Rochester. Family, friends, classmates, and even people who followed her journey on social media were in attendance.
“In my heart, I know cancer didn’t beat her,” said Alicia Wade, who is a teenage cancer survivor also from the Rochester area. “She’s in a better place and doesn’t have to hurt anymore.”
The event was a vibrant one, with decorations that showcased Drew's favorite colors, especially bright pink. The room was also filled with photos, highlighting moments from her young life and people she was closest to. Loved ones spoke about their memories of the girl and just how special she was to them.
"Her strength and perseverance was unsurpassed," said Teri Weitzman, Drew's aunt. "For a ten year old girl, the love she shared with everybody, whether it was for a short time or a long time, it was unbelievable."
People of all ages attended the ceremony. Faith and Naimah Wylder are two of Drew's closest friends. They chose to celebrate her life by singing two songs for the crowd, saying one of them was one of Drew's favorites.
"She was a kind and loving friend and one of my best friends," Faith said.
"She was sick but she would still be nice and happy and care for other people even though she was the one who really needed the care," Naimah added, remembering Drew's positive attitude throughout her battle with cancer.
At the end of the celebration, attendees released all the balloons into the air, a symbolic way to say goodbye.
Drew is survived by her mother, grandmother, and several aunts, uncles and cousins. They are asking in lieu of flowers, donations can be made to a GoFundMe fundraising page named in Karlee's honor to help with finances.