Normally, around this time of the year, Ariah Cook and her grandparents would be pulling out their holiday decorations, excited for all the upcoming festivities where they live in Ulster, Pennsylvania.
Now, they’re too caught up with doctor’s visits and trips to the hospital. Everything’s changed since the 6-year-old was diagnosed with stage three glioblastoma, a deadly, fast-growing brain tumor. Ariah has little time for anything other than fighting for her life.
Ariah’s neighbor, Jody Davidson, says the little girl lights up the neighborhood with her joyful spirit.
“She is one of the happiest girls we have ever met — she always has a smile on her face and that helps all of us to keep a smile on ours,” Jody told GMA.
So, this year, she and another neighbor, Amber Gray, decided to repay the favor. They’d hang the family’s lights and decorations for them — and rally locals to do the same.
The women shared a flier asking the town to put up their lights and decorations, no matter the holiday. The goal was “to light the town up from one end of Main Street to the other and all in between,” Jody explained.
The result? An adorable holiday mashup of Halloween, Christmas, and Easter decorations across Ulster. The town had everything set up within two days — just enough time to surprise Ariah on her return from the hospital.
After spending a week at Geisinger Janet Weis Children’s Hospital in Danville, Ariah had the homecoming of her dreams. She rode into Ulster on a firetruck, with more accompanying them from different communities. But the decorations were what really blew her away.
And the community didn’t stop celebrating. “Every day there is a new decoration that pops up in town,” Jody said. “She loves it … She enjoys her family pushing her around town to see all the lights … it helps to ease the bad days.”
And it’s not just the people of Ulster who’ve wrapped their collective arms around Ariah.
“We get messages from states away of people lighting up a corner of their homes in support of her — it’s just truly amazing,” Amber said. “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.”
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