Diagnosed with leukemia a year ago, Abby Snider, of Winchester, Virginia, spent most of her 15th year bravely fighting her cancer with debilitating treatments and harsh medicines.
“There were times when I just didn’t want to do it anymore and I just wanted them to kill me. But I knew they couldn’t. There were other times you just wanted to give up, but you have to keep going,” Snider told ABC7.
So for Snider’s 16th birthday, her parents wanted to do something extra sweet. Unfortunately, Snider’s growing medical bills left the family without extra money for the elaborate party they dreamed of throwing their daughter.
To help give their brave birthday girl the Sweet 16 she deserved, Snider’s parents reached out to Tom Mitchell of The Stillbrave Childhood Cancer Foundation, reports ABC7.
Mitchell’s organization helps families struggling with cancer-treatment costs pay for expenses like gas and rent. With help from The Stillbrave Childhood Cancer Foundation, the Sniders crafted the ultimate surprise celebration for their daughter.
The ruse began with Mitchell contacting Snider and asking her to deliver an empowering speech at an upcoming fundraiser gala for the organization. Snider quickly accepted.
“I called her under the guise that I need a child with cancer to come and speak on my behalf. So unbeknownst to her, there’s a surprise birthday party for her and 100 of her closest friends,” said Mitchell.
Snider spent the weeks leading up to “the fundraiser” diligently shaping her speech, while her family secretly worked with Winchester businesses to set up Abby’s party. When the big day arrived, Mitchell picked up the teen in a limo and whisked her away for a glamorous hair and makeup session at a local salon.
Primped and beaming, Snider arrived at The George Washington Hotel and prepared to give her carefully edited speech to a group of donors. Instead of finding a ballroom full of gala attendees, Snider walked into a party packed with her family and friends.
Seconds after the guests yelled, “Surprise!,” Snider realized there was no fundraiser. The cheering, cake and decorations were all for her.
Tears of Joy
“At first I was confused and then I started screaming and then I started crying,” Snider told ABC News. “It was awesome. I literally felt like Cinderella for the night.”
While Snider burst into tears of joy, Mitchell and the teen’s parents celebrated their successful Sweet 16 surprise.
There’s only one downside to the impressive stunt: Snider never got the chance to deliver the speech she spent weeks perfecting – but that doesn’t bother her one bit.
“I was freaking out about it and I was so relieved I didn’t have to give it,” the teen said. “I’ll save it for another time.”