Services set for former Foran student-athlete
MILFORD >> Services will be held for former student athlete Danielle “Danni” Kemp, 19, who lost her battle Friday to a rare, inoperable brain tumor.
A gathering of family and friends will be held 1-5 p.m. March 19 at the Cody-White Funeral Home, 107 Broad St. A Mass of Christian burial will be celebrated at 11 a.m. March 20 at St. Agnes Church. Burial will be private.
She remained brave and humorous to the end, said an uncle, Bradley Taylor.
Taylor said Kemp, who was “nice to everybody” and “never complained,” was admitted to the hospital in preparation for a procedure and all was well. Then to everyone’s shock, she took a sudden turn and died the morning of March 10, surrounded by family.
“She was a fantastic young woman: brave, humorous, funny, nice to everybody,” Taylor said. “Even when her body was failing, her heart was still there.”
They had recently joked that Taylor would have to approve of Kemp’s wedding dress some day and give her father plenty of tissues.
Kemp, a Division 1 softball player, and 2015 Joseph A. Foran High School graduate who was on the All-State team that senior year, was playing softball last summer with the Brakettes, and just a few weeks later was diagnosed with a rare, inoperable brain tumor.
The diagnosis came just as a rare kidney cancer she was found to have in high school had gone into remission.
Her story of perseverance in the face of such obstacles grabbed attention around the globe, as well as in the Milford community, after Taylor of Milford, set up a GoFundMe campaign to cover any treatment not covered by insurance.
The campaign that so helped Kemp will continue in a different form to raise money for scholarships or medical research to help others with the rare disease, Taylor said Friday.
Kemp’s story touched so many that Taylor received more than 1,000 Facebook messages, some from as far away as India.
Above all, the family asked for prayers and positive thoughts throughout Kemp’s fight.
“I am helpless to express my feelings of sorrow and pain to the loss of such a beautiful ray of beautiful light,” said Jeff Bevino, a close, longtime family friend of the Kemps and former Foran softball coach who had coached Kemp.
“She was the most beautiful person I’ve ever known,” Bevino said.
“I know I share my sadness with so many others. What a tragic loss. We lost an angel,” said Bevino, now a coach at Notre Dame-Fairfield.
Kemp was the daughter of Melinda Kemp and Cliff Kemp, who is a football coach at Foran.
She was a three-sport athlete at Foran until her diagnosis of the kidney cancer, after which she remained in softball as a catcher and second baseman. She was on the All-State team in 2015.
When she first became ill, Kemp was a rising sophomore at Stony Brook University on Long Island, there on a softball scholarship.
Register GameTimeCT editor Sean Bowley contributed to this story.