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Taylor has 'one heck of a village': People from Perham and beyond gather to help little girl battling cancer

A crowd winds around the silent auction offerings during the benefit for Taylor Johnson at Prairie Wind Middle School on Sunday. (Carter Jones/ FOCUS) 1 / 2
Taylor's parents, Matt and Tricia, thanked the community for their support during a benefit at Prairie Wind Middle School on Sunday. "Taylor has one heck of a village," he said. (Carter Jones/ FOCUS) 2 / 2

Perham and the surrounding community showed their full support for Taylor Johnson on Sunday during a benefit for the four year old battling leukemia. Over a thousand people, many of them young children, played carnival games, browsed a silent auction and socialized during the event that has been planned since Taylor was diagnosed in January.

Taylor herself made a brief appearance early on, but went home after getting too tired.

Taylor's parents, Matt and Tricia, were overwhelmed by the event's turnout.

"People have been unbelievable," Matt said. "Kids are running and having a blast, it's awesome."

Tricia also acknowledged how many people "drove quite a ways to be here."

Afterwards, Matt wrote on Taylor's CaringBridge page that Taylor had a great time while she was there.

"I think she definitely was over-stimulated," he wrote. "This poor girl has spent 10 weeks with limited contact. I think she tried to make up for lost time in the first 20 minutes."

Sue Jones, a Perham teacher who taught both of Taylor's sisters, was one of the attendees Sunday. She said Taylor seems like herself, despite the circumstances. Another attendee Bridget Pankonin of Dent, said she was surprised at how many people she did not know. "Which lets me believe that people came from around the area," she said.

Bridget's husband, Vince, said he always likes how the community comes together.

"They make it a big deal, it's a very giving community," he said.

When addressing the crowd, Matt Johnson said he couldn't thank everybody enough for the support.

"The love that this community has given us, where do we even start?" he asked. "Taylor has one heck of a village."