WDAY: The News Leader

Published January 30, 2011, 08:44 AM

Family and Friends Remember Grand Forks Girl Who Fought 4-Year-Long Cancer Fight

Grand Forks, ND (WDAZ TV) - People in Grand Forks are saying goodbye to a girl they grew to know through her long battle with leukemia. A battle that ended last Monday. Mourners paid tribute Sunday to this brave little girl, Ali Borgen.

By: Brady Mallory, WDAZ

Ali wanted the church to be filled with her family, friends and smiles. Ali's battle with leukemia lasted nearly four years and was marked by excruciating pain due to spinal fractures.

At her funeral at Calvary Lutheran Church, Ali wanted everyone to remember something happier about her.

"She wanted everyone to smile wide everyday. She touched a lot of lives," former babysitter Barb Murphy said.

Ali's friends and family celebrated her life just a few short weeks before Ali died in her home. The celebration made memories stronger than the disease that claimed her life.

"She was always upbeat. Sweetheart. An inspiration. She knew how to treat everybody," basketball coach Jim Smith said.

Ali lived her life to the fullest, and hoped to help other children with cancer do the same. Before she died, she raised $14,000 to fight childhood cancer.

"She used her voice and now she wants each and every one of you to use your voice," nurse Brenda Jo Gillund said.

While everyone says goodbye to a girl whose story touched people she never met, we forget about the leukemia and just remember Ali.

"Like the slogan says, 'Smile widely every day.' That's Ali. She loved life," Jim Smith said.

Ali left these word to everyone who followed her through her journey:

"I don't know why I was only able to live 14 years or why I had to have cancer. There were days when I felt like giving up, but I didn't give up. I never stopped fighting. I love you all and you will be in my heart forever."