Forest of Christmas lights give sick children hope

7 Nov

By Chaundra Paice

Jessie Hall's tree marker. Every tree in the Hemi Lighted Forest of Hope is dedicated to a different child who has had to undergo brain surgery.

Jessie Hall’s tree marker. Every tree in the Hemi Lighted Forest of Hope is dedicated to a different child who has undergone brain surgery.

What it’s all about

The Hemi Lighted Forest of Hope was created by Gary Kelley and his wife Nancy Kelley in honor of their granddaughter, Jessie Hall. Jessie was diagnosed with intractable epilepsy. Jessie had to endure extensive brain surgery in hope of alleviating her from constant seizures.

“Her seizures couldn’t be treated with pharmaceutical medicine. The only thing the doctor could do was remove the hemisphere of her brain that was affected.” – Gary Kelley


Gary Kelley and his wife Nancy Kelley wanted to establish a site that would recognize every child that had undergone a Hemispherectomy. They also wanted to create a special place to bond with the families of these children. Thus, the Hemi Lighted Forest of Hope was created.

“My idea, my wife’s checkbook.” – Gary Kelley


What it takes to make a forest of hope

According to Gary Kelley, the following is a list of items it takes to create the forest every year:

  • 108,000 lights with indoor display and parade float
  • 4.5 Acres of Trees (600 trees)
  • 2,000 feet of underground wiring with 22 service points
  • 700 Extension Cords
  • 800 Strings of Multicolored LED Christmas Lights
  • Outdoor lighted water feature with 5 waterfalls, 140 feet of creek with garden scale railroad running throughout
  • 13,000 gallons of water are pumped and recycled through the water feature each hour
  • Life size bronze bears in the creek
  • Indoor garden scale railroad, runs each night
  • Indoor Christmas display

Jessie’s story

How to participate

According to Gary Kelley, in addition to the lighted trees and water features, visitors can also enjoy the following when visiting the Hemi Lighted Forest of Hope:

What to do
  • Christmas parade floats on display from November until the end of December
  • Indoor garden scale railroad, runs each night
  • Hay rides throughout the trees
    • Every day until February 28th, 2015
    • 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., weather permitting
    • Hot chocolate and hot apple cider after hay ride
Where to go

Hemi Lighted Forest of Hope
6565 Ashley Drive – East of town off Highway 30

“If visitors choose to make a donation to the Hemi Lighted Forest of Hope, 100% of that donation is used to help the children.” – Gary Kelley


For more information on the Hemi Lighted Forest of Hope, you can call Gary Kelley at (307)630-6641.

 

Chaundra’s last post:

Painting miniatures for a different kind of game

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One Response to “Forest of Christmas lights give sick children hope”

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  1. Historic Governors’ Mansion holiday tour | LCCC Life on Campus - November 25, 2014

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