Lifestyle & Human Interest

Town Decorates for Christmas Early for Age 6 Girl with Aggressive Form of Brain Cancer


When a family is struggling with a debilitating disease, it can be hard to know how to show your support. Meal deliveries, shopping, errand-running and other daily necessities are always appreciated, but sometimes it’s the out-of-the-box efforts that really help bring back some much-needed joy.

Amber Gray and Jody Davidson of Ulster, Pennsylvania, were top-tier joy-bringers recently when they came up with a plan to bring a smile to a 6-year-old’s face.

Ariah Cook, just 6 years old, was diagnosed with stage 3 glioblastoma earlier this year, and has been in and out of hospitals ever since. A post from the Facebook page Kids Can’t Fight Cancer Alone calls the little girl a “spitfire” with a winning personality.

“She has undergone surgery, radiation and chemo,” the post continues. “When Ariah went in for her MRI this past August they found the tumor had grown. Geisinger has exhausted all their options in treating her and currently the family is waiting to hear from UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh for a second opinion.”

Ariah has had to stay home from school while she gets treatment and waits for further treatment options, which is difficult because she loves going to school.

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In October, Ariah went through cancer treatment at Geisinger Janet Weis Children’s Hospital that lasted over a week, so while she was gone, the two ladies — Gray and Davidson — decided to work a little holiday magic.

Ariah loves the seasonal decorations that come with Halloween and Christmas, especially purple ones. But her grandmother, Nancy McConnell, has been so busy taking care of her that she hasn’t had time to deck out the house. So, the neighbors decided to kick it up a notch and decorate the town for little Ariah’s return.

“Amber and I came up with the idea to light the town up from one end of Main Street to the other and all in between,” Davidson told Good Morning America.

A flyer was sent out, explaining the situation and the request, and two days later the town was alight for Ariah.

“We had an Olaf donated this morning, and we have a bunny coming tomorrow,” Davidson told KFOR. “And she just told us we had to add a kitty and a doggy to it, so we will get our hands on a kitty and a dog.”

Not only was the 6-year-old treated to a town dressed up just for her, but she also got to return to her hometown in style, riding on a firetruck.

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“It was accompanied by several other trucks from surrounding communities who had heard of her homecoming just hours before,” Davidson shared.

“She was so happy sitting when she was in the truck,” McConnell, told KFOR. “She sat and pointed at all the people standing in the road. I sat there crying saying, ‘Yeah, that’s all for you, honey. That’s all for you.'”

Ariah was thrilled with the turnout, and according to Davidson more decorations pop up every day, giving the little girl something to look forward to.

“She absolutely loves Christmas, and with the unknowns of her time here on earth with us, most of the decorations are Christmas and her favorite color purple,” Davidson said. “She enjoys her family pushing her around town to see all the lights and decorations and it helps to ease the bad days.”

“We get messages from states away of people lighting up a corner of their homes in support of her — it’s just truly amazing,” Gray told GMA. “There is just no way to possibly thank everyone for what they have done to keep Ariah fighting. While her prognosis isn’t the brightest, our town’s love for her is.”

“The brighter we shine for her,” Gray added, “the brighter her light shines forever.”

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