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Dad Turns His Driveway Into A Stage To Throw His Daughter A Graduation Ceremony

Caitlyn Clancey 18 May 2020

The ongoing coronavirus outbreak has unfortunately put the brakes on most, if not all, large social gatherings in an effort to limit the spread.

Weddings have been canceled, trips have been put on hold, and, for graduating students all across the country, the culminating ceremonies that they've spent years working towards have had to be postponed.

But as we've been seeing more and more lately, some of these students have incredibly supportive people in their lives who have taken it upon themselves to give them the graduation they deserve, even if they can't have the one they originally planned for.

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Gabrielle Pierce graduated from Xavier University of Louisiana this year but was devastated to learn her ceremony had been put on hold.

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As she told CNN, she'd actually finished her education in December of last year but was told she would have to wait for the spring ceremony to formally receive her diploma. However, that's now been canceled, meaning she'll have to wait even longer to walk across that stage.

"I was like, 'I can't believe this is happening after waiting so long. I deserve to walk,'" Pierce said.

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As it turns out, her father, Torrence Burson, shared this same belief, and set about making his little girl's graduation dreams come true.

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"I was really devastated," he told CNN. "Just to see your baby crying — knowing that she worked so hard and stayed the course. She did everything right."

So he made his daughter a promise.

"I said, 'You're going to walk across somebody's stage, even if I have to build you one.'"

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Burson only had six weeks to pull it off, and he was determined to do it all without his daughter finding out.

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He started making calls right away, ordering a stage, a podium, a backdrop, and even a photographer to come to their home in Memphis, Tennessee for the DIY ceremony.

In the end, he managed to do what some of us might consider to be entirely impossible: he transformed his front yard into a stage fit for his little girl to walk across, just like she'd always dreamed.

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Pierce had no idea what was waiting for her until she walked outside and saw what her devoted dad had personally put together.

Gabrielle Pierce via CNN

"I know when he plans stuff, it's usually big," she said. "But I didn't think that this was going to be as big as it was."

Burson was so detailed in his planning that he even made sure his daughter walked out to the traditional graduation song "Pomp and Circumstance," just like she would have at her school's official ceremony.

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Around 40 people came out to attend the 45-minute ceremony, each one wearing a mask and maintaining a safe, social distance from one another.

Gabrielle Pierce via CNN

Guest speakers included the family's pastor and Pierce's aunt, both of whom gave speeches atop the stage to commemorate the student's graduation.

"Everything was just so perfect," Pierce said. "Everyone was there to see me. I felt so loved. It was just great."

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For Burson, all his hard work had paid off, and he was able to watch his daughter have the ceremony he knew she deserved.

Gabrielle Pierce via CNN

"At that moment, I didn't have any worries," he recalled. "I was speechless. To see my baby walk across the stage and all her friends, family, neighbors and people that we don't even know stopped in the street to witness this."

"I couldn't ask for anything better."

h/t: CNN, Photos: Instagram | negasibear86

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