The announcer didn’t even have time to call Riley McCoy’s name at her high school graduation before fellow seniors gave her a standing ovation.
McCoy, 18, was born with a rare skin condition, xeroderma pigmentosum, that makes it dangerous for her to go out in the sun, reported The Orange County Register.
Her family had worked with school officials to plan a special indoor ceremony for McCoy a week before her fellow seniors graduated Thursday afternoon in the Dana Hills High School football stadium in Southern California, the publication reported.
“No,” McCoy said, according to the Register. “I want to do it with my friends.”
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Xeroderma pigmentosum, an inherited condition, makes McCoy’s skin extremely sensitive to ultraviolet rays. Even a few minutes in the sun can cause sunburns or skin cancer, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Some, like McCoy, also suffer progressive neurological damage.
A family support group for children with xeroderma pigmentosum bought a special bubble-front, UV-safe hood with a built-in fan for McCoy to wear at graduation along with latex gloves, reported CNN.
McCoy waited indoors to be outfitted with her protective gear as her fellow seniors filed out for graduation Thursday, according to the TV network. At the end of the ceremony, a cart brought her to the stadium as students burst into applause.
“We were standing up, and the next thing you know all the people around us started standing up, too," her mother, Pam McCoy, told CNN. "Everyone around us was rooting for her and calling her name. There was such a wave of love in the air."
Riley McCoy, who also was elected homecoming queen at the school last fall, plans to attend Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, where she will major in theater, reported KTLA.
“I’m a little bit bittersweet because I love my friends, and I wish I could be with them all the time, but they’re going to different colleges,” McCoy told the station.