Girl battling cancer says she's received thousands of firefighter patches

Girl battling cancer says she's received thousands of firefighter patches

RIVERSIDE, AL (WBRC) - Mileena Painter, a 12-year-old girl from Riverside battling cancer, is collecting firefighter patches. Since she first shared her story with us, the support for her cause has continued to grow.  Her mother says they have been able to count around 1,000 of the patches but they still have several boxes to go through.

Overall, they think Mileena has collected around 3,000 firefighter patches. She has received packages from places like Germany, Ireland, and Canada.

It's not just patches coming in the packages. Two fire stations sent her helmets and she has received over 40 shirts from different stations. She's donating some of those shirts to other kids at Children's Hospital who are battling cancer. That way they know they are not fighting alone.

I want to sponsor the firefighters and giving the kids that don't know firefighters as well but will appreciate them more. Not just because of the T-shirts but because they are on the T-shirt. They can feel loved and protected," says Mileena.  "I really enjoy all of the stuff that you are giving me. Not just because I have cancer but because I am doing something that helps someone, that touches them in ways that I can't imagine."

Mileena's mother says along with the patches they also receive very emotional letters.

"We had a young firefighter who wrote a letter to Mileena and sent her a patch. He said, 'I am not a very religious person but I am going to pray for you.' Mileena and I talked about that and I shared with her, 'You know you are inspiring people to do all kinds of different things. But one of the most important things that you are inspiring people to do is to pray. He is opening his heart to pray for you and we don't know what else is going to come into his heart or how God is going to be able to move in his life because he is opening his heart to him to pray for Mileena.' To me that is the most important thing that can come from this is the prayers and the love that is being sent, shared and given every day."

One woman also sent the family a package saying her son was a firefighter. She told the Painter's her son had AML, which is another form of leukemia. Sadly, after fighting the cancer for three years he passed away. She wanted Mileena to have the patches off of his firefighter shirt so it will inspire her to keep fighting.

"Pretty much every single day I am crying from one story or another," says Rachelle. "Just today we got a letter from some firefighters that are serving in Kuwait and they are praying for my daughter, for Mileena, and they are over in Kuwait and they are who we pray for."

She's currently receiving at least two to three times the amount of mail than the whole city of Riverside right now..

"Going to the post office every day, it is exciting," adds Rachelle. "We have to make sure the bed of the truck or the inside of the car is empty so that we have room for everything."

If you are sending packages through UPS please send them to the Riverside Fire Department. UPS does not deliver to P.O. boxes.

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