Community celebrates life of Lilee-Jean

Abbotsford Pentecostal was packed on Saturday as people came to celebrate the all-too-brief life of Lilee-Jean Putt.

Lilee-Jean Putt (Dec. 5

Lilee-Jean Putt (Dec. 5

Even a short life can have a tremendous impact on thousands of people.

A full house of about 1,000 people gathered to celebrate the life of little Lilee-Jean Putt at Abbotsford Pentecostal Assembly this Saturday.

“We’re all very sad, and very angry, but for today we’ve decided to have a celebration of life,” said dad Andrew Putt. “Most importantly, we can celebrate all the families that Lilee helped bring closer together and all the love she brought to each one of us.”

In her two years and nine months of life, Chilliwack/Abbotsford girl Lilee-Jean touched thousands of others. Born Dec. 5, 2010, she was diagnosed with glioblastoma, a brain cancer, just 10 months later. Lilee-Jean passed away on Sept. 6, 2013, after a public battle with the disease.

Other families may have turned inward at such a time. But Lilee-Jean’s relatives drew the community around them and opened their arms to receive support.

Lilee-Jean Putt at B.C. Children's HospitalMom Chelsey Whittle blogged about the family’s experience on loveforlilee.com and through a Facebook page, which to date has over 13,000 “likes.”

“Chelsey made sure that we were always positive, involved, and happy around Lilee. There was to be no sadness, or pity around her. Just an outpouring of love, smiles, and laughter,” said Charles Wiebe, great-uncle to Lilee-Jean.

Dad Andrew, a singer for the band Pardon My Striptease, released a song in 2011 in honour of his daughter to fundraise for B.C. Children’s Hospital. The song “Pray (For LJ)” rose to #1 on the iTunes chart. Nickelback accepted Pardon My Striptease’s challenge to match donations if the song topped the charts, and along with the band’s publisher gave $100,000 to the hospital.

The Putts and Whittles lived by a motto through the difficult time. As they wrote on a slideshow at the final celebration of life just before playing a video of Lilee-Jean dancing: “There is no better way to fight disease, and to fight death, than to live.”

Andrew Putt, Lilee-Jean Putt, and Chelsey Whittle in Hawaii.In June, parents Andrew and Chelsey sent Lilee-Jean to her first kindergarten class. In August, they held Halloween and Christmas celebrations because they weren’t sure whether their daughter would see another holiday. They continued updating the community through social media even as Lilee-Jean was taken into Canuck Place Children’s Hospice in Vancouver.

At the celebration of life, family members spoke of memories of laughs, jokes, games and music shared with the little girl.

“Her vocabulary was filled with love and joyful words, and her words and smile brought light and love everywhere that she went, and every person she met became her best friend,” said grandmother Mary Putt.

The spirit of Lilee-Jean has been permanently etched onto the hearts of thousands.

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