LITTLE ROCK, AR -- Four months after contracting a near-fatal brain-eating amoeba, Kali Hardig returned to Willow Springs Water Park in Little Rock for the first time, along with her family, to announce that an event hosted by the park that will help pay her medical bills. Park owners David and Lou Ann Ratliff, in accordance with the Hardig family, will host a fundraiser at the park titled "Fishing For Kali" at 9 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 26. The pond, which has not been open to the public since Hardig was hospitalized with primary amoebic meningoencephalitis in July, will be stocked with fish and open for patrons to bring their rods and reels. All proceeds from the event will go towards assisting the Hardig family in paying Kali's medical expenses. Hardig, 12, said her first trip to the park since the incident didn't feel any different once she arrived, adding that she was a bit nervous prior to the press conference. Hardig, her family and the Ratliffs walked down to the water to feed the fish in the already-stocked pond after speaking to the media. As for the park's future, David Ratliff said they have already begun transforming it into a campground. Ratliff said the park is being rebranded as "Willow Springs Camp, Fish and Park." The new park will feature fishing in the former natural swimming pool, camping areas around the pond, and parking for boats, trailers and motor homes. Ratliff added that there are currently no plans to reopen the pool for swimming. Admission for the event will be $25 on the day of the event or $20 in advance. A horseshoes tournament will also be held with a $5 entry fee. Anyone wishing to come and observe will pay $5. Admission will be free for children under the age of 6. Prizes will be awarded at 3:30 p.m. on the day of the event in various categories and age divisions. The event will also coincide with a fall festival from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. that day. Those wanting more information may contact the park at (501) 888-4148.
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