KANAB — If you head down Main Street in this small Utah town, you'll see signs in store windows and a marquee all bearing the same name: Jayci.
Jayci Glover, 13, has been fighting a rare form of terminal lymphoma for a year now. The treatments kept her mostly in Salt Lake City, until her family opted to bring her home Friday.
"It's ahead of us too far. It's time to come home and have some fun," said Heather Glover, Jayci's mom.
Doctors warned her parents Jayci might not make the drive home, but they decided to try. When they arrived in Kanab five hours later, the teenager received a surprise hero's welcome.
"(We came) around the turn into Kanab. We saw the whole town there," said Coby Glover, Jayci's dad.
It was a homecoming unlike any other, organized by friends and neighbors of the family. The crowd held signs with messages of encouragement, and caravan of local law enforcement vehicles led the way.
Jayci's not used to being the center of attention.
"I tried to wave and smile but everyone was crying," Jayci said. "(There were) a lot of people. It was kind of overwhelming, but really awesome."
I tried to wave and smile, but everyone was crying. (There were) a lot of people. It was kind of overwhelming, but really awesome.
When she finally made it home, her friends piled in the living room. Surrounded by laughter, she felt like just another teenage girl.
"We're all just teenagers, and we don't get the things Jayci gets. She understands more than us," Jessie Glover, a cousin, said.
Perhaps that's because she's been through a lot more than other kids her age, including chemotherapy and more than 40 rounds of radiation.
"It's really bad," Jessie said through tears. "I wish I could just go through it for her."
And it's that kind of love that brought an entire community together.
"Jayci's spirit — if you can't draw strength from that, you can't draw strength from anything," said Bucky Orton, a Kanab resident.
Though her family knows there are tough days ahead, Heather Glover said they're drawing strength from neighbors and their own little girl.
"Maybe you don't like what it's going to look like, but if you smile and move forward there's hope and happiness ahead," Heather Glover said. "That's what Jayci taught me."
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