Community gathers to celebrate birthday with 12-year-old fighting brain cancer

Sarah Donegan blows out the candles on her birthday cake as dozens of supporters singing "Happy Birthday" to her. Cory Rubin/ The Signal

Happy birthday cheers seemingly could be heard for miles as dozens of community members gathered at the Donegan family’s Santa Clarita home Wednesday to give a special birthday surprise to 12-year-old Sarah Donegan.

“It has just been so special today,” Sarah Donegan said, speechless as she was completely surprised by friends and neighbors who turned out to wish her happy birthday and support her in her battle against cancer. “It’s just been amazing that I have been able to get through all this.”

Sarah Donegan, 12, comes through the front door to dozens of supporters singing “Happy Birthday” to her. Cory Rubin/ The Signal

The front door opened as Sarah walked out with her family following. Tears streamed down her face as she smiled in surprise at the dozens of people, some wearing Sarah Smiles shirts, who showed up to her house to show how much they love her.

“This birthday party is amazing,” said Sarah’s mother Kathleen Donegan. “I had no idea it was going to be as big as it turned out to be.”

Balloons, cards, hugs and roses were given to Sarah during her birthday surprise.

Twelve roses, pink, purple and yellow, were given to Sarah as she celebrated turning 12, and 12 candles were lit as the crowd sang again so she could make a birthday wish.

Sarah Donegan stands with balloons and flowers from dozens of supporters. Michele Lutes/ The Signal

“We love her dearly,” said Kathy O’Connor, a family friend who organized the surprise. “All of us that you see here have been touched by her life. We want to support her and encourage her through her battle with cancer.”

Sarah wanted to do the same for anyone going through any battle in their life.

“I want everyone to always know they are loved and they are never alone when they are going through anything,” she said. “It’s been really hard. We wouldn’t be able to do this without the help of God.”

Sarah’s mother Kathleen and father Sean Donegan also believe someone is watching over them and their faith has helped them through her battle, they said.

“She is going to make the best of this life and she is going to preserve no matter what,” Sean Donegan said. “We are proud of her and everything she does.”

Sarah is writing a book about her battle so she can share her story and hopefully inspire others. “It’s about everything that I am going through and how God gave me the power to do it,” she said.

Sean Donegan embraces his daughter Sarah who was brought to tears by the dozens of supporters that surprised her for her 12th birthday. Cory Rubin/The Signal

“It’s been really hard,” Sarah said with tears in her eyes. “We have had a lot of people that have come and help us along the way. I would never be able to get through it, because without everybody’s prayers and everything they’ve done for us, it would be so hard to do this alone.”

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