Last week, Heaven Bailey learned that her father, who was admitted to the hospital in mid-May for terminal cancer, wouldn’t be able to attend her little sister Hollie’s high school graduation.
In a Facebook post that has now gone viral, Heaven tells the story of how in response to the disappointing news, Hollie’s friends and school staged an early graduation ceremony at the hospital so her father, Larry, could be in attendance.
“He has cancer and he’s a tough fighter, that’s for sure!,” Heaven wrote on Facebook on May 30. “My little sister, Hollie has graduation at Floyd Central High School on June 4th, 2017!!! We were super excited, and we were praying that dad could make it to her graduation even if that meant we had to wheel him in a wheelchair.”
A week before the ceremony, however, the family learned that he wouldn’t be able to leave the hospital.
When Hollie’s boyfriend and best friend heard the news, they spoke to Floyd Central High School’s principal, Rob Willman, to see if they could host an early celebration.
“We turned Baptist Health Floyd [Hospital into a high school] for the night!!! It was a blessing for all of us to witness such a magical moment,” Heaven wrote.
The community rallies together
According to WDRB, Larry has been battling esophageal and liver cancer, and has been in the hospital since May 19, according to Heaven’s Facebook post.
“We were thrilled to accommodate the request,” Stephanie Rogers, marketing and public relations specialist at Baptist Health Floyd Hospital tells Global News. “I wish we could take total credit, but it was Hollie’s best friend and boyfriend that came up with the idea. It was a surprise to both Hollie and her father.”
The hospital collaborated on the celebration by baking Hollie a cake, securing a flower donation from a local retailer and ensuring the cafeteria was secured for the ceremony.
“He was moved to tears,” Rogers says. “He was holding [his daughter’s] hand and whispering he was proud of her.”
The Internet is touched
Following Heaven’s viral post, hundreds of Facebook users shared their support and thoughts for the family.
“That is so sweet. I’m glad that her father got to be part of her big day and congrats to her for graduating high school,” user Dusty Powell wrote.
“Oh I saw this posted earlier and it was so inspirational. Lucky for them all to share this beautiful time. And kudos to the principal for joining in. Great job all!❤️,” user LiEllen Mackey wrote.
“That is a wonderful hospital and can see that happening for this family..I can’t say enough for this hospital and the staff… Congratulations Hollie on your graduation,” user Carol Gray Hardy added.