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Dying Valencia woman’s wish fulfilled

Community rallies at parade for princess

Posted: August 5, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: August 5, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Melissa Grason, 18, right, is presented with pom-poms from Canyon High School cheerleader Emille Larsson-Dally, left, during the crowning ceremony for Grason at her home on Skycrest Circle Drive in Valencia on Saturday.

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Since doctors told Jim Grason that his 18-year-old daughter only had 90 days to live, his mission has been to make each of those days a good one by putting a smile on his daughter’s face.

Saturday was one of those days.

Becoming a princess has been one of Melissa Grason’s lifelong dreams, so Saturday she was honored with her own parade, riding down the street of her Valencia home in a 1957 Ford Thunderbird convertible wearing a dress and a sash with the word “princess” on it. About 200 supporters came to the event to cheer and chant her name.

Melissa Grason has Down syndrome and was diagnosed with Stage IV Wilms’ tumor in 2010. In July, doctors told the Grason family her cancer was terminal.

Jim Grason said he searched all over the Santa Clarita Valley for a sash with just the word “princess” on it. Since most sashes said “Happy Birthday” or “Birthday Princess” on them, he finally ordered one off eBay, her father said.

Because that’s all Melissa Grason wanted to be — a princess. Nothing more or less.

“(Melissa) is such a great girl and such an inspiration,” said Melissa Potts, Mrs. Santa Clarita Valley First Princess, who helped crown the young Valencia woman “Princess of Courage” at the end of the parade.

“We’re just happy to be here to make her dreams come true,” Potts said.

The parade on Skycrest Circle Drive was led by an escort from the Los Angeles County fire and sheriff’s departments.

Melissa Grason’s favorite color is pink, so many in attendance work pink T-shirts and held up pink banners. After she was crowned princess, dozens of pink balloons were released into the air.

Tracy Grantz, a 50-year-old Santa Clarita Valley resident and breast-cancer survivor, said she didn’t know Melissa Grason but heard about the parade on the Internet and wanted to support her.

“My family has been through (cancer) so we wanted to come out and support,” Grantz said. “I couldn’t imagine having one of my children go through this.”

Jim Grason said it was uplifting to see people he had never met or hadn’t seen in a long time come out to support his daughter.

“She truly has the gift of touching people,” Jim Grason said.

“It was sad and exhilarating at the same time,” Patti Miller, Melissa’s junior high school PE teacher, said of the parade. “It was tears and smiles.”

Jim Grason said he isn’t hopeful that his daughter will live out the full 90 days the doctors gave her. He said his family is using money they saved for Melissa’s care later in life to make their final months with her special.

Melissa Grason recently spent a month in Florida, rode on a Harley Davidson motorcycle and gone parasailing on Catalina Island, her father said.

“We’ll be here after she passes away,” Jim Grason said. “If she can go out with a smile on her face, we’ve completed our mission.”

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