Home News 8-year-old fighting rare cancer will get a Make-A-Wish playground for backyard

8-year-old fighting rare cancer will get a Make-A-Wish playground for backyard


CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) – A Cedar Rapids 8-year-old battling a very rare form of cancer will soon get a wish fulfilled.

We first told you about Gracelyn Springer in December. She is fighting Ewing Sarcoma, a bone and soft tissue cancer that makes up just 1% of childhood cancers. Gracelyn originally planned to go to Walt Disney World through the Make-A-Wish organization, but travel trips are still on hold for the time being due to COVID-19.

“As hopeful as we are that she’s going to beat this, and she’s not going to relapse, a relapse is possible. It happens in 25% of the cases, so we wanted to do something that she could enjoy now,” Kelsey Springer, Gracelyn’s mom, said.

Gracelyn decided on a playground for her backyard instead. There was a hiccup to the process getting started, the family’s yard is sloped and the playground needed a flatter surface. The back of the property is flatter, but it required ripping out and extending a fence. Most local fencing companies are backed up for months due to the derecho.

Aaron Novak with Novak Fence was able to help the family by getting the work done fast.

“He looked at our fence, he goes yep I can do this, I can get you in within the next month,” Kelsey said.

Not only did Novak extend the fence to make way for the playground, but he did it for free.

“When I was there meeting with her, she told me she had to quit her job to take Gracie to Mayo Clinic all the time, and there’s better ways she can spend money than on a fence,” Novak said.

When the family found out Novak did all the work and wasn’t going to charge them they could hardly believe it.

“I cried just because of how selfless and giving it was,” Kelsey said.

“I mean if somebody’s in need you do whatever you can to help,” Novak said.

First diagnosed in November, Gracelyn has 3 more months left of chemotherapy. Now, she’s looking forward to her playground wish coming true. She told us the best part of the playground will be, “no boys allowed,” except for her younger brother Jackson and her dad, Marty Tope.

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