CULLMAN COUNTY, Alabama (WIAT) – The Cullman County community has made sure a little girl gets her wish.
Lillie Handley, 8, had never seen a real parade. She is now in the hospice car battling cancer. But the community rallied around her to help her in her difficult times and offered her the surprise of a lifetime.
Handley sat on her mother’s lap in their front yard as one by one cars, trucks, carriages and horses passed. Many slow down to offer candy, gifts, encouragement, and love.
For the past five years, Lillie has been battling neuroblastoma, a type of cancer. After various treatments and years of fighting, doctors recently gave him a serious prognosis.
“It’s tough. Very tough. But with God we can make it happen,” said Dennis Haynes Lillie’s grandfather. “I’ve never seen a little girl this strong and always, always have that beautiful smile. . “
Having never been to a parade, her church organized something small for the 8-year-old Disney Princess. But after word got out on social media, people came from afar to participate. The result was an hour-long procession where Lillie took on the role of a real-life princess, waving, laughing with other royals, and flashing her smile to adoring fans.
Cullman County Sheriff’s Deputies estimate that about 800 people were in this parade for Lillie. They say they stayed at this intersection for almost three hours directing traffic. Lillie’s family say it’s more than they could have imagined.
“It’s just that I don’t even have words. I mean, it’s breathtaking, honestly, and just plain amazing, ”said Kelly Handley, Lillie’s mom. “So many people have heard of Lillie and her trip and they just wanted to like on her.”
“I mean we, we’re just blown away by how the community came out,” said Dennis Haynes. “Words cannot tell how we feel in our hearts to everyone.”
Her grandfather says Lillie touches lives. For her family, she is a princess every day. Thanks to the community, for a few hours on Wednesday, Lillie lived a bit like royalty.