Kathleen Edward, Taunted on Facebook for Huntington's Disease, Dies at 9

on January 13 2012 10:27 AM

Kathleen Edward, the 9-year-old girl who suffered from Juvenile Huntington's disease and was taunted by a neighbor for it in 2010, died Wednesday at her Wyandotte home in Michigan with more than 20 friends and family members beside her bed, according to reports.

Kathleen died from the hereditary, incurable brain disorder less than three years after her mother, Laura Edward, died of the same degenerative brain disorder. Edward's grandfather also died from it.

The world remembers her smile and will never forget it, said Kathleen's father, Robert Edward, to the Detroit News on Thursday. She would do anything for anybody. She never complained - never.

Kathleen died with her grandmother Becky Rose lying next to her in bed. Rose did the same thing for her daughter, Laura Edward, in June 2009.

It was like reliving it all over again, Rose said.

Kathleen received worldwide support after Rose's 33-year-old neighbor Jennifer Petkov in Trenton, Mich. taunted Kathleen on Facebook back in the fall of 2010, including posting pictures of the girl's face with closed eyes above a set of crossbones and the girl and her mother being held by the grim reaper. Petkov also allegedly attached a coffin to her truck, according to CBS Detroit, labeling it Death Machine and drove it down the street honking the horn.

Kathleen received cards, letters and other means of support such as donations to help her through her struggles.

The Detroit News also reports that Juvenile Huntington's disease is rare - less than one in 100,000 children are affected - and has only started being diagnosed over the past decade, according to Fred Taubman, spokesman for the Huntington's Disease Society of America. Taubman also said that adults typically develop the disease during the middle stages of life and can live for another 15 to 20 years, but the symptoms affect children more quickly.

In addition to Kathleen's father Robert Edward and stepmother, The Detroit Free Press reports that Kathleen is survived by two younger sisters -- Ashley and Maddison.

Kathleen's funeral will take place at noon on Saturday at the Michigan Memorial Funeral Home in Flat Rock, and she will be buried at Mount Hope Memorial Garden in Livonia next to her mother.

Donations are being accepted at the Michigan Memorial Funeral Home at (734) 783-2646. The Michigan chapter of the Huntington 's Disease Society of America is also accepting donations, (989) 832-4170.

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