‘This is a real unicorn’: The latest surprise for Hamilton girl battling cancer

Naomi Short never thought she’d cross something off her “bucket list” on Saturday afternoon when she walked into Hamilton Fire Station 26.

But when Naomi, 8, diagnosed with a rare brain cancer, removed her blindfold and saw a horse decorated from head to tail as a unicorn standing in the bay, she screamed with excitement. Her mother, Melissa Short, held her hand as they walked toward the white horse, which was decorated with pink flowers and had silver sparkles painted on her hooves.

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“This is a real unicorn,” Naomi said.

When the horse moved, Naomi stepped back, then was assured the horse was just excited.

“That’s because she loves me,” she said.

She then rode the horse around the fire station’s bay. The surprise was supposed to happen at the Short’s house, but was moved a few blocks away to the fire station because of the inclement weather. Members of the Butler County Sheriff’s Office also gave Naomi two large stuffed animals.

“I want one of my own so bad,” she said of the horse. “But I couldn’t take care of it because of the chemo.”

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Naomi, diagnosed with Stage 4 brain cancer, said she always wanted to ride a unicorn, what she called “a bucket list” item. She said unicorns are her favorite because they are “magical, colorful and fart rainbows.”

When asked if she was scared riding a horse, she quickly corrected: “It’s a unicorn.”

Her mother said she was contacted by the sheriff’s office about dressing up a member of its mounted patrol as a unicorn. Now, Naomi wants to go to Disney World, appear on “The Ellen Degeneres Show” and have her picture taken in front of the Hollywood sign in California.

She has had 30 rounds of radiation and four surgeries and soon starts chemotherapy. Her mother said the chances of Naomi’s survival are 30 percent.

Earlier this month, she was featured on the CBS Evening News, and she has served as honorary mayor of Hamilton.

As a mother, when Short was told her daughter had cancer, she didn’t know how to react. Now, she said, there are no appropriate words to describe the numb feeling.

“It sucks the soul out of you,” she finally said.

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