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Benton Girl Returns to Where She Got Deadly Infection

Park owners also made announcement about park's future.
If I can't let my grandchildren swim out there, I can't let your children swim out there.
LITTLE ROCK, AR -- A 12-year-old Benton girl returned to the site where she got a brain-eating infection in July for the first time on Monday.

Kali Hardig spent 55 days in the hospital after getting parasitic meningitis at Willow Springs Park.

"I was a little nervous this morning when we started getting closer. But once we got here, I didn't get so nervous," Hardig said.

It was also her first time meeting owner David Ratliff.

"I was a little nervous about it, but you don't know what a person is thinking until you look them in the eyes and talk to them," Ratliff said.

Ratliff also announced Monday that the park will begin to offer activities like camping and fishing.

But Ratliff says he will never offer swimming again unless he can raise the money to have concrete swimming pools.

"If I can't let my grandchildren swim out there, I can't let your children swim out there," Ratliff said.

Kali's mom, Traci, says the community should embrace what the park is hoping to accomplish.

"Don't hold (the park) liable for (Kali's sickness), because it has nothing to do with what they did," Traci said. "It was nothing the (Ratliff) family had control over."

On Oct. 26, the park will hold a 'Fishing for Kali' event. It will be a catch-and-release tournament.

One-hundred percent of the money will go toward Kali's medical expenses.

Registration begins at 9 in the morning.

Call 501-888-4148 for more information.
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