PARAGOULD, AR (KAIT) - A young Paragould girl got a special escort to the cemetery Thursday afternoon.
Anaiah Phillips was only seven years old but her constant smile, despite fighting to live each day, brought both friends and strangers out to celebrate her life.
She was born February 18, 2010.
"I came up with the name Anaiah for 'God has answered' because I wanted a little girl and he gave us my first little girl," Anaiah's mother, Rachel Phillips, said.
When she was 18 months old, Anaiah was backed over by a car, injuring her spinal cord. She also had several cracked ribs and a punctured lung.
The doctors told her parents that her spinal cord was only half a centimeter away from being completely severed. She was paralyzed from the neck down.
"She wasn't supposed to make it in the next 24 hours, but she did," Rachel said.
Rachel said Anaiah fought hard every day, eventually coming off of the ventilator that doctors originally said she would need for the rest of her life. She amazed everyone with her ability.
"[Doctors said] She'll never move anything from the neck down and you'll never hear her voice, but loved to sing," Rachel said. "So she sang and moved her arms and she was starting to move her legs."
Her parents said Anaiah radiated joy and peace, wherever she went.
"No matter what she went to, even when she was in the hospital, she probably almost died a half a dozen or more times, you know, and she wasn't afraid to face death," Anaiah's father, Jason Phillips, said. "And she was always smiling."
"Against all odds, she was happy, she was healthy," Rachel said. "And then she got approved for Make-A-Wish this year.
Anaiah's wish was to meet Dora the Explorer. Her family was supposed to leave for Walt Disney World on Saturday, but Anaiah wouldn't be able to make that trip.
"I found her sleeping in her bed," Rachel said. "She went home to be with the Lord."
Anaiah passed away on Friday, just one day after she found out her wish was granted.
The funeral on the following Thursday was a rather loud affair for a seven-year-old girl, with engines roaring.
Anaiah fell in love with motorcycles after meeting several members of the Saints & Sinners Biker Club, shortly after the accident.
"One of our members was a nurse for Anaiah when she got out of the hospital so we bought Christmas for them one year," Ronnie Floyd with the Saints & Sinners said.
"She was adopted by Saints & Sinners right after the accident," Rachel said. "And they had about 15 motorcycles and dressed up as Santa Claus for Christmas and oh man she was so happy. She was like, 'That's Santa Claus and look at the bikes mommy, look at the bikes.' It was just amazing. Her eyes were glowing."
Because of her love for motorcycles, the family knew exactly how to lead Anaiah to her final resting place.
More than 75 bikers lined up to escort her to the cemetery.
"Every time we put out something, especially for kids, the community comes together," Floyd said. "It's heartwarming to know that people care that much about another individual, to show up for somebody they don't even know."
That is something Anaiah's parents also realize, both saying they were amazed by the turnout.
"These people, they just came to rally behind us and see a good-spirited girl even though they didn't know her," Jason said.
"It's amazing to know that so many people come out to show respect for her and she touched so many lives and that even though they didn't even know her they would just go out of their way to show respect for her," Rachel said. "I can't describe it."
And Rachel said although she is heartbroken that her daughter is no longer here with her, she knows that Anaiah is now healthy and is finally walking with the Lord.
"The Lord showed me Philippians 4:7," Rachel said. "That his peace that passes all understanding was given to me. And I know that there's a lot of people hurting, I'm hurting really bad, but just know you can find peace with Christ."
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