HICKSVILLE, N.Y. (FOX 5 NY) - Almost two dozen young boys and girls marked one of their biggest milestones yet: Accepting their diplomas at The Morgan Center, a Long Island preschool for children undergoing cancer treatment.
Zoefia Hamilton, 5, is a member of this year's graduating class of 22 and enjoys coming to school to do arts and crafts and play with her friends. However, Zoefia's mother, Saphrona McLennon, says the journey leading up to her big day was far from was easy.
"Zoefia is a miracle child. When she was 2 she was diagnosed with cancer," McLennon says. "She had a brain tumor, pineoblastoma."
Within three years, the aggressive cancer spread, causing Zoefia to go into respiratory failure and become comatose for two and a half months. Doctors said Zoefia only had four days to live. And though her chances for survival were low, she woke up. Zoefia has since learned how to walk and talk again, making this moment even more special.
"We're bringing happiness into their life and normalcy when they're going through a very difficult time," says Nancy Zuch, director of The Morgan Center.
Founded in 2003, The Morgan Center gives kids like Zoefia the opportunity to learn and socialize. Tuition is free for all.
The preschool was named after Morgan Zuch, a 20-year-old leukemia survivor who now majors in psychology and special education at Marist College.
"I love to be able to help make these kids happy and smile, and since I can relate to them so much it just means so much more," she says.