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Perham first grader celebrated for leukemia recovery

Taylor Johnson, a first grader at Heart of the Lakes, was diagnosed with leukemia in early 2019. After going through multiple types of chemotherapy, lumbar punctures and bone marrow biopsies, she completed all treatments in late March of this year.

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Taylor Johnson smiles, watching all the students cheering for her on May 7. (Elizabeth Vierkant/Focus)

The Perham community came together to help one child. On the morning of May 7, Heart of the Lakes Elementary School took the opportunity to celebrate this child with Taylor Johnson Day.

Taylor, a first grader at Heart of the Lakes, was diagnosed with leukemia in early 2019. After going through multiple types of chemotherapy, lumbar punctures and bone marrow biopsies, she completed all treatments in late March of this year.

Taylor Johnson Day was organized by Taylor's teacher, Ann Kostynick, and Taylor's previous teachers, Kim Flatau and Sam Lachowitzer, to celebrate her finished treatment.

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Taylor Johnson holds her father's hand as she walks by cheering students outside of Heart of the Lakes on May 7. (Elizabeth Vierkant/Focus)

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"Perham is amazing with the outpouring of support they give when it is needed. We thought it would be fun to celebrate (Taylor), and there is such an important message that cancer can be beat. It has been a tough year," Kostynick said. "This story just makes people smile and have hope."

For Taylor Johnson Day, students at Heart of the Lakes wore pink and blue, Taylor's favorite colors. Students could also pay $1 to wear a hat at school. All donations will go toward Princess Warrior in Wadena and Dough For Joe in Fergus, two of the many community organizations that helped fund Taylor's treatment.

The Johnson family will match all donations up to $500.

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Signs were made to welcome Taylor to school on Taylor Johnson day May 7. (Elizabeth Vierkant/Focus)

As Taylor arrived at school on Friday, May 7, she was greeted by cheering and clapping students, all celebrating her completed treatment, holding encouraging signs and wearing her favorite colors.

Tricia Johnson, Taylor's mother, said Taylor was excited for this day. Tricia also made sure to mention how grateful their family is for the Perham community.

"We just really want the whole community to know we really appreciate their prayers and donations and general caring," she said. "This whole community has reached out to us. We truly do live in a generous and loving community."

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Tricia also encourages everyone to support cancer research in any way they can.

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