Laiken Hagerty’s family honors her life with nonprofit aiming to help others

Published: May. 21, 2023 at 10:46 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - For Lauren and Kirsten Hagerty, Laiken was a shining light

“Laiken was a great kid, a great kid,” said her mother, Kirsten. “She lit up any room she was in and she was just a really really special person.”

“She was kind, she was smart, she was funny,” her sister, Lauren, said. “She made everyone laugh and honestly, I was jealous of that because I wanted to be like that.”

Laiken Hagerty died at the age of 10. After beating sarcoma, she succumbed to acute myeloid leukemia.

“It took a few weeks for it to be like ‘she’s not coming back now,’ said Lauren. “That was harder than the first few days for sure.”

Lauren has her family for support, she also has her soccer team at Kennedy

“Crazy supportive,” said the sophomore. “My coaches gave me a necklace, my teammates went to the funeral, they are very very supportive. They helped me a lot and they’re very understanding they know I struggle sometimes.”

And that supported extended to a rival.

Linn Mar’s annual cancer awareness game this season brought two teams together, raising $3,000 for the UI Stead Family Children’s Hospital, where Laiken spent some of the last years of her life.

“If you would’ve asked me two years ago, what that meant to me, I would’ve thought of the wave that they do,” Lauren said. “But if you asked me now I would’ve thought of when I went there for my sister the first time.”

“And knowing there’s a bunch of other kids in that room, struggling with the same thing or different things it’s crazy to think about.”

The Hagertys are helping pediatric cancer victims like Laiken, and raising money for pediatric cancer research. One of their initiatives is a blood drive on Laiken’s birthday, March 20th.

This year’s blood drive, the first, attracted 102 donors over the course of a week, equating to about 230 lives saved.

The nonprofit is named Live Like Laiken.

“I think everyone should be like her, she’s the nicest person I know,” Lauren said.

“We just want to make sure that her name is associated with helping others,” said Kirsten. “Because that’s all she wanted to do was help other people.”