WASHINGTON – Wishes do come true, at least for one Virginia girl diagnosed with brain cancer.
Friday night in Chantilly, people will line the streets as 8-year-old Tara parades through town in her very own horse-drawn carriage.
“Childhood cancer is not pink and it’s not pretty,” says Stillbrave’s founder, Tom Mitchell.
But at least for one night, Tara, who’s last name is being withheld because she is a minor, can forget about her life-threatening disease.
“She is going to see hundreds of people there,” Mitchell says. “It’s going to be magical.”
Mitchell is all too familiar with the battle against cancer. His daughter was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease and died a few years later at the age of 16.
When the family first found out she had cancer, he promised her they would be brave and weather the ensuing storm together, Mitchell says. And when she died, he swore to continue being brave and dedicated his life to helping other families face the same fate.
Mitchell became a professional boxer to raise money for cancer, learned to skydive so he could spread his daughter’s ashes from the plane and eventually founded Stillbrave.
Watch his skydive below:
He met Tara during the countless hours he spent at a chemotherapy clinic with his daughter, Mitchell says. At the time, Tara was on morphine to relieve some of the pain.
One day in the middle of a Disney movie, Tara looked up at Mitchell and told him she wanted to be a princess, he says.
He finally gets to make her dream come true, and he thanks his daughter for inspiring him to help others.
During grief counseling, Mitchell says he saw a lot of people “spiraling downwards” because they were unable to process the pain of losing a loved one. But he also saw others rise above the grief and turn that into something positive. This is what keeps him going, he says.
“My daughter gave her life so I can help as many as people as possible,” he says.
Anyone interested in being a part of Tara’s dream should line up by the intersection of Brandy Station and Stringfellow Road in Chantilly starting at 6 p.m. Her procession will start at 6:30 p.m. People are encouraged to bring signs and make it a festive atmosphere.
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