Meet Alayna Hutchings from Helena, Montana. At first glance, she is like most seven year old girls. She loves her mom (Kaya) and dad (Danny), and gives her two older brothers a run for their money. Silly, tons of energy, inventive, imaginative and made of sugar and spice and everything nice. She is vibrant, kind and generous and is determined to run her race in life.
On March 13, 2022, Alayna was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Her family was terrified of the news they had received, but Alayna showed no fear. As the days passed, more bad news came; there was nothing that could be done to treat her tumor. It was inoperable. Her parents felt helpless that they could not help their little girl, they continued spending countless hours and days researching doctors and hospitals across the county. They are refusing to give-up. Sometimes all they feel they can do is pray for a solution to this terrible situation. So they do. Every day and every night they pray.
So much time has passed since her initial diagnosis. Alayna's tumor continues to grow, but so has her spirit. She keeps going strong. She remains positive, and determined not to let something like a tumor defeat her. People say that you wouldn't even know that something so life-changing was happening to her. But it is, indeed, changing lives. It is like watching a sleeping giant come to life. Alayna's story, the story of the little girl with the unbreakable spirit, spread like wildfire across the United States. People started calling non-stop from news stations, newspapers, and radio stations. And not knowing how much time she has to fulfill her life-dreams, organizations and business stepped-up to help her do that. The local Lithia car dealership presented Alayna with her dream to visit Hawaii, and sent her and her family to make priceless memories together. Alayna wanted to fly in a helicopter someday, and Billings Flying Service donated a helicopter ride. The West Valley Fire Department in Helena held a raffle/auction to help the family pay for ongoing medical expenses not covered by insurance. As they walked to the tables and saw the hundreds of items that were donated, they were shocked and moved by people's willingness to give. People from as far away as New York City donated. As far as the family is concerned, 'thank you' will never be enough to express their appreciation. Her parents were truly grateful and could not believe the support they were receiving. They didn't realize it at the time, but now they are seeing their prayers being answered.
As the months continue to pass with countless doctor appointments and tests, calls for information and news of her condition, it sometimes felt overwhelming to her parents. But Alayna is still full of spirit and life. A family friend named Clint Branger told Danny that Alayna is an inspiration to him through everything she has been through and he says hearing about Alayna inspires him more every day. Clint thought that maybe that is what her purpose is - to inspire the people around her and even strangers who hear her story too. Clint said that maybe this is her way to show the world that just because you have a tumor and cancer does not mean you have to give up on your dreams and wishes; that if there is the will, there is a way. He pointed out all the people she has touched and made a difference in already. Another great guy named Rob Smets does a morning prayer for Alayna and others every day on Facebook. He tells Danny that Alayna is going to do some great things and maybe this is her calling. They never expected what happened next in Alayna's story.
A month had gone by, and Danny received a phone call from Katrina Mann, and she stated they wanted to donate all the proceeds from the Wild Bill Rodeo to Alayna and crown her Miss West Yellowstone, 2023. Mr. Smets contacted Tres Rios and they offered to make and customize a crown for her, and Prairie Leather Designs and Cowboy Parables are making her a pair of custom chaps. A couple of days later, Warren Johnson, who was just elected into the Cowboy Hall of Fame, reached out and said he was going to donate a horse and a custom pack saddle to an auction for Alayna right after the Gardiner, Montana horse drive that took place on May 27.
Danny states, "As more time goes on, my wife and I are still in disbelief in everybody that has reached out and shown so much kindness and love for a little girl that most don’t even know. As we still look for answers and wonder what the future is for Alayna. We have received more news about her. Alayna has had some brain damage from all the swelling in her brain. She is having a tough time learning at school, but she is not giving up and neither are we."
As life goes on, so do the phone calls for the family. They have been contacted by four major magazines that want to do a story about Alayna. They have said that her story is like a novelty book. You have a little girl in the rodeo world that is battling a tumor, and wants to dedicate her time to helping others around her. They state that she is a remarkable young woman and this is a lesson in power and inspiration and the impact of one courageous soul to travel to so many. They state that they are intrigued by the strength and courage of a little girl that only wants to use her role as Miss West Yellowstone to help and inspire other children with cancer and tumors. Shortly after the magazines reached out, Alayna got her very own professional photographer, Mary Peters. She does photos for the PBR and the NFR. She also takes photos for many magazines such as the Western Horseman Magazine, the Cowgirl Magazine and many others. There have been multiple calls from people wanting to know how they could help and sponsor her. Danny has been in contact with multiple children's hospitals for Alayna to visit other kids that have tumors and cancer; for her to visit them and get a picture with her in her Miss West Yellowstone outfit and be able to give them a stuffed animal, and an autographed picture. But ultimately Alayna wants to show that no matter what you’re going through, you can always achieve your dreams and wishes. And to show that she is just an ordinary girl chasing her dreams, you don’t have to be any more special to achieve your goals, you just have to find your dream and believe in it, and follow it.
So what's next in Alayna's story? Danny said, "Alayna‘s goal is to travel to all states and visit one children’s hospital in each state. She wants to give them hope and to encourage them to find a dream and follow it and not to give up. Another one of her dreams is to be Miss All American Rodeo Queen. As all parents should, we are supporting our child, encouraging her, and letting her know that nothing is impossible. As of right now, our goal is to help our daughter to complete her goals in life. We as parents have concerns about our children’s lives every day, but in this situation, we felt there wasn’t a right or wrong way other than letting her live her life to the fullest. And as a parent, you only get one chance to raise your kids and you try not to make very many mistakes."
"As of right now, Alayna has a busy rest of the summer attending rodeos, parades and children's hospitals and getting photos for magazines and sponsors. Thanks to all of her sponsors, Cinch, All American Ropes, Herring Custom Hats, Lithia Dodge, the main Dodge manufacturers, Cowboy Parables, Prairie Leather Designs, Tiffany Glove Company and Big Sky Printwear and Deaton Chaps. If anyone would like to donate to Alayna‘s cause, it is much appreciated. If you purchase any of her merchandise, a percentage goes back to children with cancer or tumors or other life-changing illnesses. That is what Alayna wants to do."
"I think Alayna‘s life is inspired by two of her favorite songs: 'This Is My Fight Song,' by Rachel Platton, and 'Unstoppable,' by Sia. She hopes one day she can meet them and listen to them sing. Another one of her favorite songs is 'Roar,' by Katy Perry. No one knows what Alayna‘s future is going to be, or when it’s going to be over. But we do know that her story isn't over yet; she has not roared loud enough for the whole world to hear her yet."