Family: Delaney "Laney" Brown passes away

WEST READING, Pa. - December 25, 2013

The following message was posted on the "Team Laney" Facebook page at 5:40 a.m.:

"My heart breaks right now. Our little angel on earth earned her pink glittery angel wings in heaven. She took her last breath at home in her bed at 3:10 surrounded by all her family and friends. I miss her so much already."

Laney was 8 years old.

For months, neighbors and the rest of this community have been following Laney's fight against a rare form of cancer, only 10 children nationwide are diagnosed with it a year.

"They lost their baby on Christmas and it's just a sad thing for an 8-year-old and a family to have to deal with," neighbor Linda Pietrobone said.

"We were really upset about. She's a sweet little girl and really don't have words," neighbor Jennifer Witman said.

Last week, thousands granted one of Laney's wishes by singing carols outside the family's home in West Reading.

"A lot of people don't even know her but through social media have been able to give her this wish. Unfortunately this could be her last Christmas and everyone wanted to make it special for her," caroler Deb Redcay said.

The numbers were high. Organizers said 6,000 to possibly more than 8,000 people strolled down Chestnut Street right past the decorated family home.

"Especially with this time of the year, with her birthday yesterday and Christmas next week, I can't even fathom what they're going through," West Reading Mayor Shane Keller said.

As so many carolers walked by Laney's family last Saturday, "Team Laney" posted a picture on Facebook saying "I can hear you you."

It's safe to say the little girl heard more than Christmas carols that night - she heard prayers from the community.

"Just to put her mark on the world as she did in these 8 years is something that I think should make her family very proud," caroler Melanie Searfoss said.

Laney's mother and father thanked the community for its overwhelming support that night.

Since Laney gave that thumbs up letting carolers know she could hear them, the "Team Laney" Facebook page jumped from 45,000 likes to more than 100,000.

Another wish Laney had was to meet pop star and Berks County native Taylor Swift.

Last Friday night, as her family celebrated her 8th birthday, Laney's wish was granted when the two had a video chat.

One more wish came true on Christmas Eve, when Paul Bedard from the TV show Gator Boys visited Laney at Hershey Hospital.

His visit was documented on the "Team Laney" Facebook page:

"It was late in the evening when Paul from the Gator Boys walked through her hospital room door. Laney had been fighting all day to breath and was exhausted. The medication changes were kicking in and she was becoming more lethargic. But when Paul came in her eyes opened up so brightly with her mouth agape. She was in shock. She perked up for the time he spent with her talking about gators. Her face will be forever etched in my mind. It was pure joy on her face."

Laney was also recognized by the Pennsylvania State Senate and House of Representatives as an ambassador of hope and inspiration.

Neighbors say she brought more attention to pediatric cancer.

"Laney showed what it was from start to finish and we were with them from start to finish. She's made a bigger impact than she even knows. Laney will be around for a long time," Witman said.

Family spokesperson, Christopher Winters released this statement from the family on Christmas afternoon:

"We are devastated by the loss of our Laney. She was our angel. We will miss her smile, her laughter, and the way she would light up any room she was in. We are eternally grateful for all of the love kindness, prayers and support that we have received from people across the world. You will never know how meaningful it was for all of you to rally around Laney. Laney was a wonderful, kind, and loving child, who brought so much joy to our lives. Even as her illness progressed, Laney never stopped having faith, she continued to smile in spite of her pain, and she showed more concern for all of us than for herself. We will miss her every day of our lives and the void she's left will never be filled. Our sincerest thanks for all that each of you have done. Your prayers and well wishes gave both Laney and us great comfort as we made our way through this very difficult time. We know Laney is in heaven and watching over all of us."

Funeral services for Laney will be at the convenience of the family. Donations to assist the family with escalating medical expenses may be made at: or to the Four Diamonds Fund at

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