Teen With Cancer Gets The Ultimate Sweet 16 Surprise From Her Community

03/05/2015 05:09 pm ET | Updated Mar 05, 2015

Last year, Abby Snider was too sick to celebrate her birthday. This year, she celebrated like a princess.

The teen was diagnosed with leukemia a year ago and has been in and out of the hospital. She hoped to have some sort of celebration for her 16th birthday since she was too ill the year before, but her parents had medical bills to pay. That's when their community stepped in.

Stillbrave Childhood Cancer Foundation, an organization that helps families of children with cancer, helped Abby’s parents throw a surprise "Sweet 16" party for their daughter by providing food, flowers and entertainment. The Virginia teen also had her makeup done and rode in a limo to what she thought was a fancy gala.

When she walked through the doors, everyone yelled, “Surprise!” For the first time, Abby realized this was all for her.

“At first I was confused and then I started screaming and then I started crying,” she told ABC News. “It was awesome. I literally felt like Cinderella for the night.”

Abby said she always wanted her 16th birthday to be a surprise. Thanks to her community, her wish came true.

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  • 1
    Tevin Yarger
    My Talan. He's a leukemia warrior. He's 8 years old and he's just a regular kid. We call them "warriors" and "heroes" and "fighters" but really they're just kids... kids who are fighting a battle much bigger than any of us and nobody asked them if they were up to it. So when I say he's a regular kid it's because the worst part of his treatment is over and he's getting back to doing the only thing he should have to do right now. He's being a kid.

    This photo was taken a year to the date and I've never been able to get over the difference in his appearance. These kids live through hell. The worst part is knowing that as a parent you can only walk so far down that road with them. Talan would get sick to the point of bile. I wanted to comfort him so I'd reach out to rub his back or touch his neck with a cool rag but he'd put his hand up and without looking at me, in the best voice he could muster he'd say "No." That was the most profound moment as a parent caring for a child with cancer. He had to do the really bad parts alone and I could only watch. -- Tevin Yarger
  • 2
    Krystal Stephenson
    This is my daughter Kasydi. She was diagnosed with ALL last year on July 15th at just 3 years old. It took two months of her constantly being sick to get her diagnosed with something other than anemia. As you can tell from this picture she is a very smiley little girl. She's so strong and brave. I am so proud to be her mom. -- Krystal Stephenson
  • 3
    Amanda Skelte
    I have a 4-year-old daughter who was diagnosed with a brain tumor at 2 1/2. Her name is Reese.

    After that she had a failed chemo and another couple brain surgeries. We started new chemo and shrinkage for those 16 months. Her last chemo was April.

    She has been in the hospital for a month for assumed meningitis, she was in septic shock another month. She shared an IV pole with me when I gave birth to our baby girl last December.

    She is my middle monkey of my five under 8, and a huge piece of my heart. -- Amanda Skelte
  • 4
    Julie Taylor
    My 2-year-old son who was diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma in April 2010. He is currently four years in remission and attending first grade. -- Julie Taylor
  • 5
    Angie Worzala
    Our son Joey was diagnosed with ALL when he was 3 years old. We are coming up on his one-year diagnosis anniversary, and we have treatment planned through January 23, 2017. Joey loves nothing more than his big sister and every single one of her interests. -- Angie Worzala
  • 6
    Nilsa Dominguez
    My youngest out four kids is fighting brain cancer medullablastoma. His tumor was removed completely. His name is Isaac and he's 7 years old. He finished six weeks of proton radiation/chemo and he has to complete six rounds of chemo. He has completed two rounds. He has definitely brought out the strength in me. He is so giving, caring, and he is my hero. I have always known there was no bigger love than a mothers love for her children and this reassured me that. -- Nilsa Dominguez
  • 7
    Mariam Johnson
    This is my son, Connor, 10 months after being diagnosed with DIPG. He looks healthy and full of life, right? That's because the only course of treatment for this terminal on diagnosis cancer is radiation treatment. Radiation is a palliative measure to buy time and results in minimal hair loss.

    He lived 16 months from diagnosis and died less than six months after this picture was taken. In fact, he looked so healthy, at our Make-A-Wish trip to Disney, we were politely asked (over six times) to move from the "special line." He looked normal but was much worse off than those who had treatment options. -- Mariam Johnson
  • 8
    Sophie Grow
    Here is our story about my 3-year-old daughter's cancer survival and miracle.

    Grace was diagnosed soon after birth with neuroblastoma stage 4s. The 37 week ultrasound showed an abnormality and soon followed 3 full weeks until delivery of anxiety, more ultrasounds, so many doctors, and no answers.

    She was born healthy (it seemed) on her due date and came home with us days after. She showed no signs of stress except a lag in gaining weight. At 4 weeks old her left adrenal gland was removed and found to be lemon sized. The following treatment was a wait-and-see approach since 4s can spread all throughout the body without pain or ill effects. The cancer spread to her liver, right adrenal gland, and God knows where else in her body. We had the least invasive approach of regular ultrasounds and frequent check ups at Portland Oregon's OHSU Doernbecher Children's Hospital.

    At 10 months old, without chemo or radiation, with only love, this precious miracle tested cancer free. She's been cancer free since.

    Grace is an amazing person to experience and she lives life full speed ahead. -- Sophie Grow
  • 9
    Charlie Mayes
    This is my son Gavin, diagnosed at age 3 with leukemia. He is now 5 and loves to tell people he kicked cancers butt! He has two years of chemo left and then he will get to call himself a survivor! -- Charlie Mayes
  • 10
    Mindy Russell
    My daughter, Caliah, was diagnosed with ALL leukemia at the age of 3 in 2010. She is four years in remission now. Cancer has changed our lives and opened our eyes to the awareness we need to have. We are very blessed that Caliah responded to well to therapy and is a healthy 7-year-old now. -- Mindy Russell
  • 11
    Sarah Oberhauser Speichert
    Our son Jack was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive brain cancer roughly two months ago and we are currently undergoing treatment at St. Jude in Memphis, TN. Like many families, we had no idea until his behavior started to change around the first of July 2014 and an MRI revealed a large tumor inside his brain. Two brain surgeries in Omaha, NE were done to remove the tumor but it was necessary to have a third surgery in Memphis, TN when Jack's head developed an infection. Once the infection was under control, Jack was allowed to start chemotherapy.

    We are currently in our third week of chemotherapy with roughly 13 more weeks in our plan. At that point, Jack will need to undergo radiation therapy to help fight this disease for the long haul followed up with six more months of chemotherapy. We remain hopeful that our "Super Jack" can do this. He shows his strength and resiliency more and more each day.

    His mom (Sarah), his brother (3-week-old Jase) and I are at his side every step of the way cheering him on. He also has his grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins keeping his spirits high all over the country through technology. -- Sarah Oberhauser Speichert
  • 12
    Jo-Ann Annunziato
    Almost three years ago, my (then) 3-year-old daughter was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. It was caught through a blood test. Within days, my seemingly healthy child was fighting for her life.

    I am happy to say that today, at the age of 5, Maya is cancer free. She finished chemotherapy this past June and began kindergarten a few days ago. Aside from some complications as a result of the intense chemotherapy she received, Maya is doing well and we hope it will remain that way always. We will forever live with the fear of her cancer returning though. Our entire world has changed and we are incredibly grateful that our daughter is still with us. We know how different things could be. -- Jo-Ann Annunziato
  • 13
    Gretchen Leavitt
    My son Simon was diagnosed with clear cell sarcoma of the kidney at 12 months. He braved seven months of chemo and was off treatment for two years when he developed an inoperable brain tumor earlier this year.

    He is finishing treatment of intense chemo and had 28 radiation treatments. He has endured three surgeries including having his right kidney removed. He hates his pokes but has gotten so brave. I hate that he thinks this is normal and feels everyone is staring at his bald head. -- Gretchen Leavitt
  • 14
    Libby Kranz
    I am mother to four. My eldest Jennifer aka JLK was diagnosed on her 6th birthday Oct 28th, less than a year ago with DIPG -- a brain tumor that is terminal upon diagnosis. She lived with treatment 3.5 months.

    We are broken and devastated... we believe she is in a better place. I miss my daughter and they miss their sister. The whole world is missing out on the chance to know her. Some girls are just born with glitter in their veins and I truly believe my daughter was one of those. -- Libby Kranz
  • 15
    Jill Joan
    Our neighbor and dear friends' little boy Alex was diagnosed March of 2011 with stage 4 neuroblastoma. Alex passed away July 8, 2013 from this horrible disease. -- Jill Joan
  • 16
    Tiffany Willis
    My son Landon Jaymes Willis was diagnosed with hepatoblastoma at 19 months old. He passed away just 36 hours later, taking his final breath safe in my arms.

    He lived a devastatingly short but very full and happy life. In an instant my husband's life and mine had changed forever. Now our new reality is learning to live with a broken heart in a world where our sweet angel no longer exists until we can be together again. -- Tiffany Willis
  • 17
    Travis and Desiree Parrack
    Our son Blake was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) on December 29th, 2008. He was 2-years and 4 months old when he was diagnosed. His baby sister, Alexia, was born only 18 days after he was diagnosed. We had just gotten the kit for her cord blood, which was banked by CBR for free due to her brother's life threatening illness. Blake was in treatment for leukemia until April 21st, 2012. His treatment lasted a total of three years and four months. He went through many hospitalizations, various chemo treatments, blood and platelet transfusions and outpatient visits. With his suppressed immune system we had to avoid large groups of people as well as sick friends and relatives. For the first year after he completed, he went back monthly for blood draws, last year it was every other month, he still goes in every three months for blood draws to make sure the leukemia hasn't come back. He is now a happy, healthy, 8-year-old boy! -- Travis and Desiree Parrack
  • 18
    This is our precious boy Eli Mason Vela. He just turned two August 6th. He was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia six weeks before his 2nd birthday. He will go through three years of chemo treatments.

    It has been a huge adjustment to our family's life, but we are determined to stay strong and help our fighter through this. -- Crystal Vela
  • 19
    Jill Guerrero
    My 3-year-old son, Luke, was diagnosed with ALL in March 2013. He had a very rough time with chemo in the beginning, resulting in long hospital stays and an alternative treatment plan. He is in remission, however, doing really well, and will continue treatments for a total of three years. -- Jill Guerrero
  • 20
    Ashley Finney
    This is my daughter Logan, shaving her pediatric oncologist's head at a a St. Baldricks event. To me it represents the love, friendships, and support we have received throughout my daughters treatment for leukemia. Although it has been a long hard journey, the friendships and bonds that we've made are irreplaceable. Her doctor is a huge supporter and shaves his head every year to support childhood cancer research and his patients. -- Ashley Finney
  • 21
    Courtney Trumbauer
    Aidan is one in a set of triplets, with two sisters. They were born at 29 weeks weighing less than three lbs. Aidan was born with a condition that required a skull remodeling at the age of 4 months old. Fast forward to less than a month before their 2nd birthday, Aidan fell and hit his head, leaving him unresponsive. A CT scan revealed a mass in his brain, completely unrelated to the fall. Upon removal of the tumor, it was determined to be an astrocytoma. Fifteen months of chemotherapy later, he finished treatment in March 2014. Though he will never be "cancer free" because of remaining tumor, he is free to be a typical almost 4-year-old again. -- Courtney Trumbauer
  • 22
    Katie Hanway
    This is my daughter Abby. She passed away in February 2014 at age 5. Her official diagnosis was parameningeal sclerosing rhabdomyosarcoma, which she fought for three years. After relapsing the second time, we were told that there were no trials available to her because her type of cancer was so rare, and to take her home and love her.

    I feel this picture represents our journey because it's not the happy, St. Jude's face that you always see in commercials. She went through more than a dozen surgeries, close to 40 rounds of chemo, 33 days of radiation and she ended with part of her tumor growing out of her eye and losing her vision in both eyes. -- Katie Hanway
  • 23
    Tiffany Seibel
    My son Prestun is stage 4 neuroblastoma. He just relapsed from this horrible monster. To make matters worse he relapsed in the brain and is preparing for removal next week.

    He is calling all superheroes. His birthday is September 17 and instead of toys, he wants to honor all superheroes around the world. -- Tiffany Seibel
  • 24
    Heather Howell
    My beautiful daughter Charley has brain cancer. She just turned 1 on August 13th. She was diagnosed with brain cancer at 4 months. She has been in treatment since December 2013 and she has about seven months left of treatment. -- Heather Howell
  • 25
    Erica Mahoney Robinson
    Our son Sam was diagnosed with medulloblastoma in 2009. Full resection of brain tumor, six weeks of radiation, 52 weeks of chemo. An amazing journey filled with a roller coaster of emotions. Cancer free for four years now. We feel blessed. -- Erica Mahoney Robinson
  • 26
    Sharon Hobbs
    This is my 18-year-old son, Raistlin Hobbs. He was first diagnosed with Ph+ ALL or Philadelphia chromosome positive acute lymphoblastic leukemia, on March 21, 2008 at the age of 12. He underwent chemotherapy treatments and radiation treatments and ultimately had a bone marrow transplant in July 2008. He was in remission for six years and the doctors thought he had this beat. On January 30, 2014, we found out that he had relapsed. He has done more chemo, but could not have radiation because he had the maximum amount in 2008. He underwent a second bone marrow transplant in July 2014 and is still in the hospital recovering. The chemo and radiation have affected his liver, lungs, and kidneys. -- Sharon Hobbs
  • 27
    Kim Grassan Lenardson
    My son, Carson, has been battling T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia for two years now. We are so blessed to have such a strong, little man who is kicking this cancer with all his might. We pray he will never relapse, however that is always in the back of my mind -- that possibility. So today we treasure what we have. -- Kim Grassan Lenardson
  • 28
    Julie Thompson
    This is my baby cousin Sterling Avery. Sterling was diagnosed with (Ph+)ALL in December of last year, her and her mother Laura J Miller were flown by air ambulance immediately to a neighbor island in Hawaii. That is where they have stayed, they haven't set foot in their own home or seen any of their friends in nearly nine months now. Most recently, Sterling suffered the complete and permanent loss of her hearing due to one of the medications used to save her life from a horrible disseminated fungal infection. She is a true FIGHTER. -- Julie Thompson
  • 29
    Beth Stein Pinsky
    This is my son Aaron. He was diagnosed at 4 years old with ewing's sarcoma stage 4. He underwent 14 rounds of chemo, 28 rounds of proton beam radiation (five hours away from home), a feeding tube, three surgeries, relearning to walk, and everything else that goes along with treatment. Aaron is now 7 and has his two-year scans scheduled for October 21. His passion is giving back and he loves his family at our hospital. He would donate everything we have to kids in need and for that and so many reasons he is my hero. -- Beth Stein Pinsky
  • 30
    Laura Burt Pita
    This is my son Josh. He was diagnosed with leukemia on November 24, 2010, and finished treatment on March 7, 2014. After his first year of intense chemo, he returned to the football field, some days playing immediately after leaving the hospital after his chemo infusion. To celebrate six months off treatment, Josh, his brother Keagan and I will shave our heads to raise money for St. Baldrick's so no other child has to go through what Josh has. When he grows up, Josh wants to play in the NFL, and when he retires, he wants to be a pediatric oncologist. -- Laura Burt Pita
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