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Community mourns death of Braelynn French

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ST. CHARLES, MO (KTVI) -  A young St. Charles girl whose courageous fight against a rare form of brain cancer inspired St. Louis area high school basketball teams, fire departments, and others, has died.

Braelynn French passed away Wednesday at the age of 3.  She was diagnosed with Diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma, or DIPG, in June. Her family announced the news in a blog dedicated to chronicling her story.

 "...she overcame a disease that tried to take everything from her. She overcame it by the way that she approached treatment, and how she always found a way to express her personality to it’s fullest despite the terrible diseases awful attempts to surpress it. The disease only took her body. Her life will live on in all of our hearts forever and ever."

Since her diagnosis, French had been embraced by the St. Charles High School Girls basketball team, among others, and their rivals at St. Charles West, which donated proceeds of a cancer awareness game to the French family. Braelynn's mother and aunt are former SCW basketball players.

Braelynn served as an honorary ball girl when West played Incarnate Word in the state basketball playoffs, and when IWA advanced to the high school Final Four, so did French's story, which was recognized on the floor at Mizzou Arena in Columbia.

Her story inspired St. Louis Cardinals like Yadier Molina and singer Kelly Clarkson, who performed a song for the young girl via SKYPE in a February computer chat.

"How many people can say they’ve danced on home plate at a Cardinals game, hung out with Mike Matheny, sang songs with Kelly Clarkson, and met countless celebrities? Braelynn did all these things before her 4th birthday," the family's blog continued. "She was an athlete, a singer, a dancer, an animal lover, a part-time comic, and a beautiful daughter to a deserving mother. The world did not lose a child. It lost a person, who had a defined personality, sense of humor, and character."

A purple balloon release is scheduled in Braelynn French's honor Thursday morning at St. Charles West High School.