More than 2,000 Jeep drivers hold parade for young cancer patient in West Virginia

HEDGESVILLE, W.Va — More than 2,000 Jeep drivers on Wednesday staged a Christmas parade in West Virginia for a 4-year-old boy with cancer.

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Georgie lives with his family in Hedgesville in the eastern part of the state, but has been spending time in the hospital battling Stage 4 neuroblastoma, WUSA reported. Georgie has been hospitalized since October 2019 and was unable to come home for Christmas last year, but doctors allowed him to spend time this year at home with his family, the television station reported.

The boy enjoys Jeeps, so his parents asked around and posted on social media in hopes of organizing a parade, WJLA reported.

That resulted in a “Jeeps for Georgie” page on Facebook. Many of the event attendees came from neighboring states, according to WUSA.

“This year has been so isolating for all of us, and we can only imagine the added challenge of literally fighting for your life,” Berryville, Virginia, resident Jillian Ztemenots, who attended with her husband and 8-year-old son, told the television station.

On Wednesday night, Georgie got his parade. Some of the drivers even dressed up their Jeeps with special lights and decorations, WJLA reported. Some drivers also dressed up in Christmas costumes, and even Santa Claus paid a visit, according to the Herald-Mail of Hagerstown, Maryland.

“With everything going on in the world, my daughter was afraid that the virus would ruin Christmas,” Allison Miller, who came from Oldtown, Maryland, told WUSA. “This was a way of showing her Christmas is not always about receiving, but also giving.”

Organizers realized that the number of Jeeps in the parade could break a world record. The mark for the largest parade of Jeeps is 2,420 vehicles at the Bantam Jeep Heritage Festival in Butler, Pennsylvania, in 2015, according to the Guinness World Records’ website.

The “Jeeps for Georgie” organizers told WUSA they will not have a final count on participants until later, but added that they printed off 2,600 check-in numbers and ran out before the parade began.

“If this year has taught me anything it would be that life is precious and the moments we have here are not promised,” Jenn Garst, who came from Vienna, Virginia, told the television station. “I would have driven 10 hours ... to make a little boy’s Christmas wish come true.”

A GoFundMe page has been set up for Georgie’s family. More than $25,000 has been raised.