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Event planned to honor Leland

After the tragic death of local first grader Leland Shoemake, the Pike County community is pulling together to show support for the family with a Friday, Oct. 9 event planned at the pre-K building from 4 to 8 p.m. Leland passed away after battling balamuthia mandrillaris for several weeks – undergoing dozens of tests and procedures during his stay in the hospital. A prayer vigil for the late Leland Shoemake was held Tuesday, Sept. 22 at the high school track as the community banded together in prayer for the first grader who was battling balamuthia mandrillaris. The disease is extremely rare, not contagious and has a very high risk of fatality. School friends, teammates, family and community members gathered at the track to hear from Marc Pritchett and pray for Leland and his family. Scenes from the prayer event were broadcast on evening news shows in the Atlanta area. Leland, a first grader at Pike County Primary School student, was sick for nearly a month and hospitalized for weeks. A Prayers for Leland facebook page was set up with regular updates on his condition. A gofundme.com account titled Help for Leland was set up to help the family with medical expenses from all the time he spent in the hospital. Leland’s 1-year-old brother is named Logan. To help the family, go to gofundme.com/leland- shoemake. The illness is thought to infect the brain when soil containing the bacteria comes in contact with skin wounds and cuts and then travels to the brain causing granulomatous amebic encephalitis (GAE), an infection of the brain and spinal cord. According to the Centers for Disease Control, balamuthia mandrillaris is not contagious and has only been confirmed in around 250 cases since it was discovered in 1986. There have been no previous reports of the infection spreading from one person to another.

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