Jeff French couldn’t leave the hospital to see his daughter graduate, so the principal brought the graduation to him.
As WSYX News reports, Emily French is a senior at Mount Vernon High School in Ohio. Her father has suffered from bad health for most of his life, but in the past few months, Jeff has been getting steadily worse.
This year alone, Jeff suffered four strokes and two heart attacks. After the last stroke, in April, doctors told the family that Jeff wouldn’t be able to leave the hospital again. As Emily explained to the Mount Vernon News:
“His kidneys and his heart are pretty much fighting against each other. Anything that they can do to help his heart destroys his kidneys and vice versa. There’s nothing more that can be medically done. He still laughs and jokes. He’s still himself, just a little slower.”
It had always been Jeff’s dream to see his daughter graduate from high school, but his health made it impossible to leave his hospital bed. What’s more, Emily was concerned that he might not live to her official graduation date in late May.
“I’m his daddy’s little girl,” she told the Mount Vernon News. “He was very upset that he wasn’t going to be there.”
Hoping to be able to share her special day with her father, Emily spoke to the principal of her school. Mount Vernon Principal Scott Will agreed to come to the hospital for a private graduation ceremony.
There were just a few friends and family there when Will came to award Emily her diploma. Emily’s mother, Roxanna, told the Mount Vernon News that they tried to make the short event special because “it meant a lot to her and a lot to her father.”
Emily told WSYX that her father was very proud to be able to see her graduate:
“We could barely wake him up and I said, ‘Dad do you remember what’s happening today?’ And he had a confused look on his face, and he said, ‘Oh you’re graduating today.'”
Emily later tweeted a photo of her graduation.
Today my principal came to the hospital so my dad could see me graduate ❤️ I love you so much dad pic.twitter.com/KXndLlgrBP
— Emily French (@_emilyfrench_) May 13, 2019
Today my principal came to the hospital, so my dad could see me graduate. I love you so much dad.
Will told the Mount Vernon News that he was honored to be a part of the intimate graduation ceremony:
“In the midst of the hardship that they’re going through right now, to have that moment of happiness and excitement of celebrating Emily’s accomplishment with her father … it was really special to be a part of.”
The ceremony only took about 15 minutes, but Emily says she’ll never forget it. She recalled for WSYX:
“He woke up, and he shook my principal’s hand […] and then Mr. Will gave me my diploma. And my dad kissed me on the forehead and said, ‘I’m just so proud of you.'”
The family has created a GoFundMe page to help pay for Jeff’s medical and funeral expenses.