Fulfilling mom’s dying wish: Principal agrees to hold graduation ceremony for family in hospital

The high school graduation ceremony is an important event where many students can’t wait to stand proud on stage to receive their diploma with their families witnessing their big moment. But for one young girl, her ceremony had to be held at the hospital for her dying mother.

Cassidy De Leon, a senior at Washingtonville High School in Washingtonville, New York, was set to graduate on June 21. However, her 51-year-old mother, Elizabeth De Leon, had been battling terminal colon cancer, and her health was deteriorating rapidly.


Despite her health, De Leon still hoped to live long enough to witness the important moment of her daughter graduating from high school.

“I would always tell her I won’t get my cap and gown until graduation,” Cassidy, a cheerleader in her school, told CBS New York.

That’s when De Leon’s eldest son, Richard Pagan, decided to fulfill her dying wish.

He called the school principal, Brian Connolly, and made a last-minute request—a graduation ceremony at the hospital. Connolly agreed.

©YouTube Screenshot | Inside Edition

“I was able to get into the school over the weekend, retrieve her diploma and a cap and gown and bring it to the hospital,” Connolly recalled.

©YouTube Screenshot | Inside Edition

On Memorial Day, Connolly presided the graduation ceremony in the hospital and spoke of how Cassidy, a talented artist, is an asset to the school community.

Though De Leon was catatonic before Cassidy’s graduation, she was alert and all smiles when she saw her daughter donning her cap and gown.

©YouTube Screenshot | Inside Edition

“She was happy, and me and Cassidy told her ‘mom, it’s okay. You can go now,’” Pagan recalled.

De Leon passed away shortly after the ceremony.

Watch the video below:

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