"Help Kadi Breathe," was the slogan printed on pink shirts worn by Kadi’s Krusaders, a group of loving friends and relatives determined to help a local family meet sky-high medical costs due to their daughter’s debilitating illness.
Kadi’s Krusaders held a benefit Gospel concert and barbecue Saturday at the ball fields in Pembroke. Folks came and went from 2-10 p.m. to hear such artists as The Holcombes, The Quinneys and recording artist Donna Jackson. The group plans to hold a benefit yard sale for Kadi beginning at 7 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 3, at the American Legion headquarters in Pembroke.
Kadi is the 17-year-old daughter of Dennis and Connie Hodges and the sister of Teryn, 18, and D.J., 6, all of Bryan County. Kadi was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis when she was 6 months old. Today, her disease has taken such a toll that the high school senior needs a double-lung transplant. She is currently hospitalized at Duke University Hospital in Durham, N.C.
"Right now she’s on oxygen," said Ellen Hamilton, Kadi’s aunt. "She has a port in her chest for the IV and a feeding tube in her stomach."
Cystic Fibrosis is a chronic hereditary disease of the mucus glands which impacts the body’s respiratory and digestive systems. CF was once considered a fatal childhood illness. However, with improved treatments and better ways to manage the disease patients with CF can live into adulthood.
Hamilton said the money raised will help with Kadi’s surgical costs and with costs associated with the Hodges having to travel to North Carolina to be with their daughter during her long hospital stay.
"Only one parent can stay in the hospital room at a time," she said. "The room is so small there’s only enough room for one chair."
Although the family has medical insurance through Connie Hodge’s employer, the family must pay $5,000 up front for Kadi’s surgery, her aunt said. The family also is struggling with financial difficulties. Kadi’s father, Dennis, was recently laid off because of the recession. He worked for a grading company in Statesboro.
Kadi’s grandmother, Ernestine Hodges of Pembroke, said her granddaughter’s illness is hard on the whole family, and on all their friends who try to give support.
"I just want my young’un to get well," Hodges said, her voice breaking.
"From the day of her birth, Kadi has been an angel," said Kadi’s aunt, Regina Cathcart of Claxton. "If she could be here today (Saturday), I know she would be."
Cathcart said Kadi has always had an outgoing personality, despite having Cystic Fibrosis, and "puts on a good face" when she isn’t feeling well.
"She’s a little dare devil," Cathcart said, beaming about her niece. "She loves the beach. She’s been parasailing and she loves to swim."
Kadi has "never met a stranger," and has a soft spot for babies and animals, he aunt added.
Cathcart said one family alone can’t shoulder the burden of a critically ill child.
"It takes the community to come together," she said.
Cathcart said many good people in the community have devoted their time and talents to help the family raise money.
"Everybody here is helping Kadi get her miracle," she said.
Kadi’s mother echoed a belief in miracles.
"When Kadi was born the doctors called her a miracle child then," Connie Hodges said. Hodges explained that her daughter had complications during delivery, and could have died. That episode was separate and apart from Kadi’s CF diagnosis, she said.
"It’s rough," Connie Hodges said. "Kadi doesn’t like being up there; she doesn’t like being far from home."
However, her daughter does appreciate prayers and has even received text prayers on her cell phone, Hodges said.
To donate to the Kadi Hodges Fund, visit any area Heritage Bank.