DANA POINT (CBSLA) — Riley McCoy’s story has touched and inspired countless thousands.
Diagnosed with a rare disease where sunlight can trigger horrible burns or even deadly skin cancers, McCoy took the long walk for her diploma Thursday.
As KCAL9’s Stacy Butler reports, it was the longest walk of McCoy’s life.
“I love all of it. I felt support and loved,” she said after the ceremony.
The Dana Hills High School senior wanted to attend her own graduation. When she was named Homecoming Queen, the event was designed around her needs.
On Thursday, McCoy’s mom wanted her to graduate safely inside the gym.
“She’d be the only one, she’d be special. And I thought she would love that, but that’s not what she wanted. She wanted to graduate with her friends,” her mom told Butler.
Wearing a borrowed bubble-faced UV-safe hood with an air conditioning vent, McCoy risked the sun’s rays and received her diploma to a four-minute standing ovation.
“Even her walking across the stage. The assistant principal is there to help her at one point. And then the principal takes her down the ramp. It’s just guiding her through the last chapter, and it’s just been incredible,” said her father, Mike.
“Glad I finally got to graduate with everybody else,” McCoy said.
“People were taking pictures, people we don’t know, were all in this stands, they were clapping, waving at her,” says her mom proudly.
The Dana Hills High School student is not surprised by the applause. He said he’s received over a hundred calls and emails from students who wanted to hold the graduation at nighttime so McCoy wouldn’t graduate alone.
“She’s taught this community to care about other people and not themselves,” says Ken Needler.
Her mom and day say that works both ways.
“We’ve seen the good come out in so many other people just to help us,” said McCoy’s dad. “It’s unbelievable.”