Robot helps PBG girl battling cancer to attend school again

Mobile robot allows her to interact with classroom

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. - Technology is driving so much change in this country.

And some of that new tech is allowing a local charity to help a little girl battling cancer. Her chemotherapy treatments don’t allow her to go to school, but she’s not falling behind in her classwork thanks to a robot.

At just 9-years old, Jacqueline King already knows she wants to be a neurosurgeon.

"I did surgery on my stuffed animals," she shared with WPTV during an interview on Tuesday.

But right now, her three year battle with leukemia makes it impossible for her to be in the classroom with her friends.

"We were thrown into a whirlwind of doctor's appointments, drugs -- all kinds of things," said Marlene King, Jackie's mom. "It's like a roller coaster ride. One day, you see she's good and then that same day, you see she's running to the ER with a fever -- and then you're there for three weeks.”

That's where Chasin A Dream Foundation comes in.

"Typically when a child gets one of these diseases, the family's finances are devastated," said charity founder, Lori Griffith.

Griffith raised $3,000 to buy Jackie a state-of-the-art robot to continue her schooling at Trinity Christian this semester. Jackie is transported from the home or the hospital and straight to the classroom.

"The first week was incredible, it's almost like I got my child back. She's happy, she gets to be with her friends. She's positive," said Marlene. "It's so advanced. Who wouldn't think that now, we can go to school from home? And interact with teachers and schoolmates, it's amazing."

With a computer program on her home computer, Jackie controls the robot -- complete with a microphone, a large screen and camera.

"Everybody waves at me," said Jackie of her classmates that sit around the robot. Students can speak and interact with her directly through the bot.

The robot -- which looks similar to a Segway with a giant iPad screen -- Jackie can literally move the robot around the classroom and down the halls to her other classes.

"People high five her and they wave and talk to her, so she really maintains that crucial element of being a part of a community," said Griffith.

Jackie spent the past three weeks in the hospital and was unable to attend classes since the family doesn't have a laptop computer available to her. On Tuesday, the foundation donated a brand new laptop to take with her wherever she goes.

"It's incredible. Now she's going to be able to even from the hospital, be in the class with her students, take her mind off how she feels as well," said Marlene.

After three years of fighting leukemia, Jackie has just six more months of aggressive treatments left. And with her new robot, she'll never have to feel alone.

"It brings a lot of hope. We can see the end of this. Cancer will not destroy us," said Marlene.

Griffith hopes to raise more money through her foundation to gift these robots more children across the area. To learn more about Chasin A Dream or to donate, click here.

The King family has three other young children that they are supporting through school and Jackie's mother has had to quit her job to help with the cancer process. Click here for more information on a fundraiser to support the family.

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