A California neighborhood came together to throw a parade for a 15-year-old cancer patient who had just finished her last round of chemotherapy, BuzzFeed reports.
On March 24, Courtney “Coco” Johnson, of Pasadena, completed her final chemotherapy session at the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. Johnson, who lives with her father Kelly, brother Parker and mother April Danz, had been diagnosed with cancer in June 2019 — just after graduating from the eighth grade. According to BuzzFeed, she had been dealing with some leg pain before tests revealed that she had an Ewing sarcoma, a cancerous tumor that grew around her left femur.
“There was a lot of time that I just wasn’t feeling well for many days at a time,” she told BuzzFeed.
Upon finishing her final round of chemotherapy, Johnson left the hospital under the impression that only some members of the staff, along with her immediate family, would see her off. Her mother’s friend, Sonia Singla, however, had other plans.
After Danz had expressed her disappointment in the fact that Johnson would not get a celebration like most cancer patients typically would, Singla came up with the idea of a “reverse parade.” She gathered some of Johnson’s loved ones, who drove to Johnson’s street, parked their cars and waited for Johnson to pass by and say hi.
When Johnson’s family turned the corner, dozens of people greeted the 15-year-old.
“When we turned the corner, it was very emotional for all of us,” Danz said.
The mother was able to capture her daughter’s reaction on camera and eventually shared the 56-second video on Twitter, where it has received 4.1 million views.
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In the clip, a visibly shocked Johnson can be seen waving at passerby. At one point, she begins to cry, overwhelmed by the support she’s received.
“I wasn’t expecting anything, and I was just so surprised and grateful that everyone showed up to celebrate me,” she told BuzzFeed.
Danz’s clip of Johnson’s reaction has since generated more than 2,000 comments from social media users, many of which have been just as supportive.
“CONGRATULATIONS to Coco!!” one person tweeted. “You are a STRONG and beautiful young lady! Remain STRONG throughout your life!!”
“This is the best thing I’ve seen in 2020,” another tweeted. “God bless you and Coco!”
Though Johnson told BuzzFeed that she was shocked by what her community had done for her, she said she can understand why her mother’s video has gone viral.
“I think it struck a chord in the country right now because people are needing to lean on others and get to know their neighbors,” she said.
“It’s important to stick together and support each other in this hard time,” she added.
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