Students and staff at Glen Elementary lined the hallway while Grady Oprean, 8, wearing his hospital mask entered school for the first time in months. The emotional moment captured on his mother's cell phone.
"It has been a real struggle, Grady has been through quite a bit in the first year of chemo," said Angela Oprean, Grady's mother. "Just knowing that he feels lonely, that’s tough because as a mom I don’t want to see him that way."
Throughout Grady's continuous battle with cancer, he remained on the minds of students and staff including his second-grade teacher who made sure he did not fall behind.
"Three nights a week, I would go to his house for two hours and we would go over the lessons for the day, try to keep up with what the class was doing," explained Karen Chasser, Grady's teacher.
"When that happened, that made me so happy and stuff and made me really want to come back so I took a step forward," said Grady. "I thought it was the most, best thing, I have ever happened to me, that was the best."
His principal says the school's parent-teacher organization helped with the idea to create a memorable welcome back.
"Very proud of all of the kids but the kids are always loving that way, it’s great," said Carl Clark, Grady's principal.
Oprean says the years ahead won't be without struggle but she has faith her son will continue to grow stronger. She says Leukemia treatments can take three and a half years to complete.
"I tell him all the time, I’m like you’re way stronger than I am," said Oprean, trying to hold back tears. "I’m very, very proud of him."
"I want to say thank you so much for all the support and it really meant, my life, to me for me to come back," said Grady.