A 7-year-old Wisconsin girl recently diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor has asked to receive letters from dogs and the response has been overwhelming.
“Every state and I’m going to guess, 50 countries,” said Geoff Mertens, the little girl’s father, according to Fox6.
In late January, Emma Mertens was diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), a rare brain tumor.
“Last weekend she was having a normal weekend playing with friends, playing in the snow, and wrestling with her brothers. On Sunday though, she got a headache and started having flu-like symptoms,” reads a note on the GoFundMe page set up to help with medical expenses. “By Wednesday, she was rushed into surgery to reduce swelling on the brain.”
Emma has undergone several surgeries and has undergone intensive radiation therapy.
“She’s very brave because even doing radiation entails a lot and it’s scary,” said Tammi Mertens, the girl’s mother.
“To remove it would mean a lot of risk and you can’t do that because of the brain stem,” Emma’s father told WTMJ-TV.
Outpouring of Support
Knowing Emma loved animals, a family friend thought it would be nice to raise her spirits with a letter from her dog.
“She’s just always loved puppies and a friend of our family ended up wanting to reach out and spread some love for Emma knowing that we were home and had this diagnosis,” Tammi Mertens said, according to WTMJ-TV.
The family friend then asked her friends to do the same.
“Those friends shared it with their friends and so on and so on and it just literally went viral to where it’s been shared, I can’t even imagine how many times it’s been shared,” said the girl’s father, according to Fox6.
As momentum grew, the family started receiving a constant stream of emails as well as physical pictures and handwritten notes from dogs arriving by the truckload.
“We’re receiving about 3,000 emails an hour,” Geoff Mertens said. “It’s beyond overwhelming.”
He estimates Emma has received more than 100,000 pictures of pups from around the world.
“If you knew Emma, she’s the most kind, big-hearted girl,” Geoff Mertens told “Good Morning America.” “To see so many people take a few minutes out of their day to put a smile on her face is overwhelming.”
Finding it challenging to deal with the truckloads of mail showing up at their door, the family set up a Facebook page, asking for well-wishers to post messages there.
“Hello all! Please share this page as a way for people to post pictures of their dogs instead of mailing or emailing. We are getting overwhelmed with the mail and would appreciate this avenue instead,” reads a note on the Team Emma page.
“I think the letters give us an opportunity to forget about it,” said Geoff Mertens.
“It’s just nice to see so many kind people taking time just to try and cheer her up,” said Tammi Mertens.
The Wisconsin Humane Society got in on the action, reaching out with a call for people to share pup pics “to brighten her spirits during treatment.”
“To avoid inundating her email inbox,” the Humane Society wrote, “we ask that you please post your photos in the comments below, then we’ll send Emma a link to this thread so she can see all the cuteness at once 💓”
The post has received over 115,000 comments and has been shared over 13,000 times.
This is Emma, an incredibly brave 7-year-old from Hartland, WI who was recently diagnosed with an inoperable brain…
“The love for Emma is powerful! We feel it,” reads an update on the GoFundMe page. “The support, notes, mail, texts, emails, comments on here, meals, help at the house, visits … it’s so overwhelmingly amazing.”
At the time of reporting, the $100,000 funding goal was exceeded with over $107,000 raised.
“We are not going to stop seeking a cure for Emma,” the family wrote. “Please keep praying for a miracle.”