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Abandoned Child Thanks Thousands Who Helped Her

August 12, 1988

GARY, Ind. (AP) _ A 9-year-old said thank you Thursday to the people who sent her gifts and prayed for her recovery when her frostbitten legs were amputated after she was found abandoned in an unheated apartment last winter.

″I want to thank all the people in the world for remembering me and (for) all the donations they’ve given me and gifts and cards and letters and their love and prayers,″ said Darlwin Carlisle.

Darlwin’s ordeal touched hearts nationwide after she was found locked inside an apartment Jan. 17 by a construction worker who said he heard a child’s voice plead, ″Please don’t board me up.″

Hundreds of presents, thousands of letters and donations of at least $125,000 were sent to help pay hospital bills after her severely frostbitten legs were amputated just below the knee.

After going through a rehabilitation program at La Rabida Children’s Hospital in Chicago, Darlwin walked out of the hospital on artificial legs April 19.

At the time, hospital officials wouldn’t let her talk to reporters, but on Thursday she held a news conference, with her great-grandmother by her side, to say thanks.

She also sang a song she had written, with the words: ″Had it not been for the Lord on my side, where would I be? Where would I be?″

Darlwin lived with her mother, Darlwin Britt, in Gary, before she was found by a construction worker who had been sent to board up an unheated brick home after a mortgage foreclosure.

Darlwin now lives with her great-grandmother, Katie Carlisle, in Gary.

″She seems to be getting more used to being at home with me and she calls me momma,″ Katie Carlisle said Thursday. ″I think she loves me very much. I show her a lot of love and so she returns my love.″

Darlwin said Thursday she plans to return to school this fall and study reading and writing.

Darlwin’s 25-year-old mother pleaded guilty to child neglect on May 6. She was sentenced to 14 years in prison May 27 by Lake Superior Court Judge Richard W. Maroc, who blamed the neglect on the mother’s admitted cocaine use.

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