It makes me feel loved.
LITTLE ROCK, AR -- A Benton girl fighting a rare brain infection spoke on camera for the first time Thursday. Kali Hardig has been battling parasitic meningitis since July 19.
On Thursday, Arkansas Children's Hospital doctors gave Kali a pass to have dinner at a fundraiser held in her honor at Texas Roadhouse.
"It makes me feel loved," said Kali.
Hardig got parasitic meningitis after swimming at a Central Arkansas lake, Thursday was her first time out of the hospital. Kali's says she's been anticipating this moment for a while.
"Because I have been in the hospital for a long time," said Kali.
Only two people in North America have survived the brain-eating illness. Doctors say Kali is the third.
"We are just so blessed and happy," said mom Traci Hardig.
The 12-year-old says she is looking forward to going back to school but knows that will take some time.
She also sent her thanks to her supporters.
"Thanks for what all you have done for me, y'all prayed," said Kali.
On Friday, doctors say Kali will get into a therapeutic pool to help with her recovery and overcome her fear of water.
"Obviously we would like her to work through that fear of water so she will be able to swim again, especially in pools. We want her to also be able to enjoy leisure activity of water again," said Dr. Esther Tompkins.
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