BENTON, Ark. (KTHV) - It's been one year since we first met Kali Hardig. She contracted a rare disease called parasitic amoebic meningitis after visiting a local water park in July 2013. Defying all odds, Kali survived.
"It's still kind of hard to believe that it was me because it still seems like I just had a normal life," Hardig said.
She spent 55 days in the hospital fighting the disease.
"They didn't know what she would be like if she did survive," said Kali's mother, Traci Hardig. "We've been totally blessed with a miracle. Once we got her home and we took the journey of healing her this last part of the year, it has been great to see her overcome and see what she can do."
Doctors said she wouldn't wake up and if she did, she'd never walk and she'd never speak. But they were wrong.
"Basically all I do, when I come home from somewhere I say 'Mom' I wanna get in my pool!" she said. "I'll stay in there from maybe like noon 'til night."
She bikes, runs, and even made the volleyball team this year.
"The end of last year, I tried out for volleyball and I made it," Kali said. "So I'll be getting' to play volleyball this year and I'm excited about that."
In April, the family celebrated a milestone they didn't think they'd see: Kali turned 13.
"It was awesome," Kali said. "We did 80's theme. We had a DJ and a magic man!
"It was unbelievable," Traci said. "I think my husband and I just glowed from ear to ear all night just watching her."
School is a struggle for Kali but Traci said she's there to help her every step of the way. Even through her own nine-year battle with breast cancer.
"We're going to do scans so hopefully in two weeks when we do scans, we show that I'm in remission and we don't have to do anymore chemo," Traci said. "That's what we're praying for."
Both Traci and Kali now have new appreciation for life that only the last year could give them.
"I just want to do everything that I always wanted to do and try to do it with family and stuff and just have fun doin' it," Kali said.
Arkansas Children's Hospital has chosen Kali as their miracle child of the year. That means Kali will visit Washington D.C. for the first time this year. Afterwards, they're sending her to Disney World.