Harlee Salmi, a Hot Springs girl whose illness inspired a movement among small towns in western Montana, has passed away. She was six years old.
Harlee's mother, Taylor Salmi, posted the news on Facebook Wednesday evening.
"At 12:20 PM today Harlee flew off to heaven!" Taylor wrote. "She fought until the end but was surrounding by her family and deeply loved! Our hearts are shattered but we know she is running and playing again! I have no more words at this point. We are planning a service and will have details soon!"
Over a year ago Salmi had been diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma, or DIPG, an aggressive brain tumor that attacks the brain stem that controls breathing, heart rate and the nerves and muscles. So far there is no known cure for DIPG.
Life expectancy after diagnosis is six-nine months but Salmi hit the one-year mark on May 4. The Salmi family said about four weeks ago they made the decision to end her treatments.
Salmi's condition inspired a number of small Montana towns around the Hot Springs community to begin the "Hope for Harlee" movement through her battle. Back in October at the 14-C district volleyball tournament in Noxon, each team wore "Hope for Harlee" shirts in warmups in an effort to raise funds, and spirits, for the family. The Hot Springs community had also begun a GoFundMe for the family to help ease treatment costs.
For her sixth birthday, Salmi was treated to a special birthday surprise when the entire community turned out to wish her a happy birthday.