Deputies make birthday special for girl with rare disease

- Calling someone a friend can make their life better, and 9-year-old Grace Weigman is proof. She hasn't stopped smiling since she met her newest friends.

"It was just a magical day because they don't come a lot," her mom, Holly said.

Sarasota County deputies, Sgt. Cliff Legg and Lt. Dale Barshinger helped surprise Grace when her school resource officer couldn't make it to her ninth birthday party.

"We were lucky enough to be chosen to do it, and it was our honor," Sgt. Legg said.

Grace isn't a typical 9-year-old. She has been through more than 20 spinal surgeries in her battle against a rare disease called Robinow's Syndrome. Some days are worse than others, but her birthday was one perfect day.

"As soon as we walked in, her face just lit up. She came over and gave myself and the Sgt. a hug like she had known us her whole life. It was very gratifying," recalled Lt. Barshinger.

This birthday was extra special for Grace and her family. While she is 9-years-old, she has only spent about three birthdays at home - spending many of her days in the hospital.

Deputies had no plans on missing this one.

"We have kids and we all kind of have a soft heart for kids, especially someone like her who has gone through a lot and has a lot more to go through in her life. A lot of struggles most of us wouldn't imagine going through," said Lt. Barshinger.

For Grace's family, it was one day to forget all the pain and struggles Grace has been through.

"It was and incredible day, to see her light up and be tired over something that's normal and not medically taxing, is a really really good feeling," said Holly.

It is a day Grace said she will remember forever.

"I was so surprised to see my police officers," she said.

Her family is grateful for making new friends and adding some good memories to their lives.

"We again and again see her mountains moved and we are so honored to the people who care enough to take off time from their workday to celebrate a girl's birthday," said Holly. 

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