The 10-year-old Whittington girl's journey has just begun, her obituary reads, and will continue when her funeral is live-streamed Wednesday afternoon for her friends and fans around the world.
Makanda Jaide Williams, described as having "charisma and charm," will be buried in a purple casket Wednesday after dying Saturday at her home in Macedonia. She was diagnosed with a highly aggressive and terminal brain tumor called diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma.
"It just happened so quickly," said family friend Jim Muir, who said he would speak at the funeral. "She'd noticed her eye was kind of drooping, and her mouth. They thought it was her glasses, and within hours they’ve diagnosed her with a terminal illness."
DIPG is almost always fatal within a year of diagnosis, according to medical experts.
The way the family approached Makanda's illness has been "just incredible," Muir said.
Her mother, Sarah Carlton, quit her job at an attorney's office to focus on Makanda and DIPG. Her father, John Carlton, is a coal miner, and the couple has two other children. Connor is Makanda's twin brother; he turns 11 on Friday. Addison is their younger sister.
"Makanda spent the last year of her life fighting the demon called DIPG with the courage of a warrior. She lay down her sword at 12:18 a.m. Saturday," her obituary in The Southern Illinoisan says.
Services will be at 1 p.m. Wednesday at the Whittington Church in Franklin County. The services will be streamed live from the church's YouTube channel.
The girl has fans around the world, Muir said, calling her "a scrapper" who would throw a thumbs-up in her videos.
A host of "Small Town Big Deal" is from Benton, Illinois, and heard about Makanda. The show had an episode that featured Makanda, and her story was then picked up by the Armed Forces Network.
"It became international," Muir said.
"Her personality and her charm just tugged at people's heartstrings," Muir said. "A lot of people came together on this, more than I've ever seen in my life."
Two fundraisers in Franklin County raised more than $45,000 for the family, Muir said, adding that it was striking to him in the high-poverty area.
"I had (people) knock on my door, saying, 'You don't know me, but I follow her on Facebook. Here's a check for $300; would you give it to the family?'"
Sarah Carlton plans to start a nonprofit and fight for other families facing this type of cancer, Muir said.
"Sarah took the love of a mother to another extreme. She was remarkable," Muir said.
"I think it's something she'll devote her life to, I really do."