Monroe girl battling cancer gets big wish: A high school graduation

A Monroe girl who is battling cancer got her wish granted as Monroe school officials gave her a special high school graduation ceremony.

Madison Smallwood, a fifth-grader in the city’s school district, had long wished to experience a high school graduation. The entire Monroe community rallied to make her dream come true Thursday.

The emotional ceremony — attended by the entire fifth-grade class — included music, a choir, school board members, a proclamation presented personally by the mayor and speeches praising Madison for her courage in her continuing battle against cancer.

“Madison, you have inspired the community with your courage,” said Monroe Board of Education President Brett Guido.

Madison’s struggle — she suffers from osteosarcoma — has launched numerous community charitable events and fundraisers in recent years to cover her treatments and surgeries.

Monroe Schools Superintendent Phil Cagwin presented Madison, dressed in a specially sized graduation cap and gown, with her honorary diploma.

“Madison has displayed the many qualities that we have grown to expect from Monroe High School graduates. She is smart, courageous, determined, dedicated,” said Cagwin.

The outgoing superintendent also marveled at the outpouring of love for the 10-year-old.

“As with all celebrations and sad situations, this community pulls together. Madison has been an inspiration to everyone with her heart and her courage,” he said.

The event included classmates and staffers from the Butler County school presenting Madison with flowers as they congratulated her.

The ceremony left a lot of watery eyes and afterwards Madison’s mother, Lori Smallwood, said, “this is something I will cherish for a lifetime.”

“I can’t extend my heartfelt (thanks) to the Monroe local schools and the Monroe community for everything they continue to do and they amaze me with everything they can pull off in a short amount of time for Madison,” said the teary-eyed mother.

For Madison, the ceremony “means a lot,” her mother said.

“This was on her bucket list of things to do and we got it accomplished for her,” Smallwood said.

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