LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — An 18-year-old teen was granted a special wish Thursday to fly in a helicopter.

Adrian Pineda of Watts has been battling cancer for the past three years. He lost his leg to the disease when he was just 16, but taught himself how to walk on a prosthetic.

Although Pineda underwent chemotherapy every other day, he never gave up on his number one goal to graduate high school.

Pineda just earned his degree from City of Angels School and Virtual Academy.

“Feels good to finally finish with high school after, you know, balancing treatment and school. It feels really good,” Pineda said.

The Los Angeles School Police wanted to give him a graduation gift and coordinated a helicopter flight—something Pineda always wanted to do—with the LAPD Air Support Division.

“This is a kid who just wanted to get a diploma with everything facing him. We talk about courage and commitment and dedication…quite frankly, he should be an inspiration to us all,” Los Angeles School Police Chief Steven Zipperman said.

Pineda chose his sister, Kassandra, to share in the ride and the celebration.

“I’m really proud of him, and I’m glad he’s still here with us after all this that he’s been through. He’s been through a lot and he deserves everything he gets right now,” she said.

The siblings buckled up and set off into the sky.

“Today they are on an ASTRO flight…they patrol flights, so they will be responding to calls for service,” an official said.

Two and a half hours later, it was back to the base.

“I’m speechless. Once in a lifetime. The views…it was something I’m never going to forget,” Pineda said.


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