Gracie’s Lights brighten the holidays for medically fragile teen
BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Fifteen-year-old Gracie Larson has spent most of her life in the hospital.
She was born with a severe cardiac defect. Her doctors didn’t expect her to survive, but she is a fighter.
In addition to her heart defect, Gracie also has Down syndrome and an endocrine disorder that has affected her growth.
She has had surgery after surgery, from an airway reconstruction to spinal cord surgery, and is about to have another major surgery on her spinal cord. Without it, doctors say she will become a quadriplegic and lose her airway. The surgery is serious, and there are many risks.
But she is facing it all with, what else, but grace.
This light show has taken months of planning and thousands of lights.
“There are about 15,000 lights,” said Laura Larson, Gracie’s mom. “There are so many cords on our front yard, it’s ridiculous.”
But she said, it’s all worth it.
“It brings tears to my eyes, and it’s just very emotional for us. We have a happy little girl and an amazing tribute,” said Larson.
Gracie’s life has been filled with doctor’s visits and hospital stays.
“Every day is a battle for her,” said Larson.
Gracie’s favorite thing in the whole world: Christmas lights.
“Over the years we’ve wanted to setup a tribute for her,” said Larson.
Her parents decided this was the year they’d finally put up lights for Gracie.
Next month, Gracie will have another major surgery; she’ll be hospitalized for several months.
Dr. Joan Connell has been by Gracie’s side since the day she was born.
“She has this amazing tenacity to get the most out of life,” said Connell.
Connell says Gracie’s upcoming surgery is a risky one.
“We’re not sure if it will work,” she admitted.
But she adds, if anyone can come through it with a smile, it’s Gracie.
“She inspires me every day,” added Connell.
Her parents hope these lights that bring a smile to Gracie’s face every night, will brighten the holidays for everyone who sees them.
“I hope people who see them just feel happier and brighter this holiday,” said Larson.
And they hope when life gets tough, people will think of Gracie and find the good.
“She always finds the sparkle and light and twinkle in each and every day,” said Larson.
You can see Gracie’s lights at 12120 Country Meadows Drive, just east of Bismarck. The lights are on every night from dark until midnight.
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