COVID-19 and cancer be damned — Addison Rivera, a Rosedell Elementary student who’s battled acute lymphatic leukemia for the last two years, wanted to celebrate her last session of treatments with a procession of unicorns.
And on Saturday, she did just that.
First gathering at the Granary Square parking lot in Valencia at 2 p.m. before driving over to Rivera’s church, Valencia United Methodist Church, over 100 people created signs and wore shirts with the inscription “Fight Like a Unicorn” — the unofficial anthem of Rivera’s cancer journey — all in the name of celebrating the end of her cancer treatment in December.
“‘We’re going to have a party at the end of this,’” Rivera’s mom, Cassandra, remembers saying to herself and her family back in October 2018, when her daughter was first diagnosed. “And then COVID happened. And that was a lot because for a long time, we were looking forward to that plan for celebration.”
The plan, Cassandra said, also included getting Draconum Brewery food, one of the family’s favorite local spots.
Not wanting the last year to get in the way of commemorating their journey, and along with the help of their church, balloon-makers and their neighbors, the family was able to coordinate for the cars to drive through the church parking lot — honking and waving all along the way to Addison standing nearby.
“It was super cool,” said Rivera, after the parade had ended and the family was on the way to pick up their Draconum takeout. “I got so excited that everything started moving, and I got dizzy.”
“The most magical part was just seeing so many people come by that have just been by us, loved us and supported us for these couple years,” said Cassandra.
Rivera added that while her cancer treatment ending was the more exciting of the two events — she was going to have a little celebration of her own, as well, by riding her bike more now that she’s on her way to recovery.
“I would only go a half-mile and then my legs would just hurt so bad,” she said, talking about her bike riding before her treatments. “But now I can go about three miles … and I’m really happy that I’m able to do that.”