Students organize hospital graduation ceremony for sick classmate

CASTLE ROCK, Colo. — Grace Bradley was supposed to be walking at her high school graduation. Instead, the teen is stuck sitting in a hospital bed after becoming seriously ill with an infection just days before the big day.

“I felt like that was kind of being robbed from me,” Grace said.

Her friends braving the cold for the Douglas County High School commencement Tuesday felt that, too.

“We were sitting at graduation, and Elizabeth looks at me and goes, ‘It just hit me that Grace isn’t here,’” Taylor Littlefield told CBS4.

So, Taylor along with friends Elizabeth Smith and Haley Grover brought the graduation ceremony to Grace in her room at Castle Rock Adventist Hospital. As her friends walked in wearing their purple caps and gowns, Grace couldn’t help but cry.

“Just seeing them made me so proud of them,” Grace told CBS4’s Kelly Werthmann.

Grace couldn’t stop her tears from falling as pomp and circumstance music played and the DCHS principal, Tony Kappas, and assistant principal, Diane Shuck, made the unique ceremony official.

“Grace Olivia Bradley,” the principal proclaimed before handing Grace her hard-earned high school diploma.

The special surprise was captured on cellphone video that’s now gone viral on social media. Grace’s friends said it captures what makes the Castle Rock community is all about.

“I think this is a very giving community, and this is a perfect example of that,” Taylor said. “It shows everyone that we will come together for one of our students and one of our friends.”

Grace’s mom said it was incredibly heartwarming to see school staff and classmates go out of their way for her daughter.

“These kids, I’m sure, had other plans,” Lisa Bradley said. “I’m sure Diane Shuck and Tony Kappas had other plans after graduation and those plans didn’t include coming to the hospital. I really appreciate the sacrifice of their time to be here for Grace.”

As for Grace, she said she is very blessed to have such caring friends and a strong community. She is a bit shocked at how quickly the video of her special ceremony has gone viral, and she has a message for anyone who sees it.

“I would want people to know that my face is not that fat,” she said with a smile, noting how the antibiotics she’s taking have made her “puffy.”

Grace’s sense of humor combined with the support from family and friends is helping the graduate through her hospital stay. She is expected to make a full recovery from the illness, and, once that happens, plans to join the Air Force.

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