Friends from all over come to wish Fayetteville student a happy graduation

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- Family and friends spanning from as far as Kentucky to South Carolina came out to celebrate the graduation of a 19-year-old Fayetteville student with special needs.

Whether it's her infectious laugh or trademark bows, Leianna Smith makes an impression with everyone she meets.

"Everybody that meets her falls in love with her," said Terry Cavalier, Leianna's mother.

While Leianna has faced challenges her entire life, this past year has presented new difficulties for the Cape Fear high school student.

"I think she kind of got depressed because she liked going to school. She loved her teacher, she loved the students in there," Cavalier said.
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"Everybody that meets her falls in love with her," said Terry Cavalier, Leianna's mother.



And with the help of her teacher, Leianna overcame that challenge too and she graduated.

But unfortunately, due to the pandemic, she could not go to her own graduation because of her disability, so her parents came up with the plan to host a drive-thru parade that blew up overnight. The event even caught the eye of local fire departments.

"Leianna deserves all of the same things normal high schoolers deserve and this is something that doesn't cost us anything," said Justin Nobles the Stedman Volunteer Fire Department chief. It's an opportunity for the community to come together and give back to her and to see a smile on her face... you can't put a dollar on that."

On Sunday, cars lined up to graduate Leianna on her big accomplishment.

"She's changed my life, she's made me a better person," said Bobby Cavalier, Leianna's father.
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