WEST YORK, Pa. — West York's Kaiya Wilkins is a spunky seventh grader. She's wide open all the time and a kid that will be outside from sun up until sun down.
“I like being outside and being with friends and skating," said Kaiya.
But now, she’s on multiple medications, potassium and changing her bag, full of antibiotics, on her PICC line, every day for 38 days. Her legs are swollen and her feet have spots from the infection breaking off and trying to leave her body.
Four weeks ago, Kaiya felt a pop in her hip being a regular kid, trying to replicate a TikTok video. It started with a lot of pain and fevers. She went to the emergency room and was told it was a muscle strain, but everything kept getting worse. Two weeks of different appointments and tests. Finally, on Thanksgiving weekend, her body couldn't take it any longer. Kaiya was rushed to Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center. A week later, she undergoes open heart surgery.
Her mom Carole Wilkins said, “she ended up in the hospital with a septic hip, osteomyelitis in the bone, Abscess, septic emboli that traveled all throughout her body to the brain, the kidney, the spleen and the heart. The heart is where it settled and shot these emboli off.”
Just five days after having open heart surgery, she was able to come home.
“Every day was like one step forward and we thought we were getting answers and then it was two steps back. Well this happened or that happened and it wasn't until they finally got into the heart and cleared the infection from her valve, that we started taking one step forward, every day," said Carole.
Her mom and dad, Justin Wilkins, have taken time away from their jobs to be able to be at their daughters aid 24/7. Justin’s that guy that’s always in the community - helping, coaching. Never imagining his family would be the ones in need of help.
Family friends started a GoFundMe, not knowing what was a good goal was they posted it at $25,000 but within the first 24 hours, they raised over that number and it continues to grow.
“The outpouring of prayers and love was absolutely amazing. I would like to thank everybody, I mean, I don't even know where to start," said Justin.
“All my support and prayers means a lot and it worked. It got me home," said Kaiya.
The racing roots run deep in the Wilkin's family. Kaiya’s grandfather worked on the farmed "Apple Car."
Drivers and crew members from the Pa Posse and across the country to California and Washington, and even, Jesse Gregory James from West Coast Choppers calling Justin and showing his support
“The racing community, is at it's, heart good honest people and it's very family oriented. You go to the tracks with the same people week in and week out and you build relationships and you travel up and down the road with these people and it becomes a family. It's a racing family and we don't use that lightly," said Bob Salathe, COO of Winter's Performance Products.
Kaiya had the goal of being home for Christmas. Now, her Christmas wish is to steadily improve every day, so she can get back to being a regular kid.
“(Kaiya) said I don't need a Christmas gift. I got my Christmas gift. I'm home," said Justin.
West York School District is also helping out. Kids in her class contributing and selling "Pippi strong" bracelets.
Many area businesses are also hosting fundraising events:
BrewVino - December 11th, 3-8 P.M., 25% of proceeds donated
Bridgewater Public House - December 13th, 4-9 P.M. 20% of proceeds donated
Mamma's Pizza of Wellsville - December 14th, 11 A.M.-9 P.M. 30% of proceeds donated
RockFish Public House - December 15th, 4-9 P.M. 20% of proceeds donated
White Rose Bar & Grill - December 16th, 11 A.M. - 5 P.M. 20% of proceeds donated
Flinchy's - December 19th, 20% of proceeds donated
Home Slice - December 20th, 20% of proceeds donated