Community comes together to make unicorn dreams come true for 8-year-old battling brain cancer

Naomi Short gets the chance to meet a unicorn thanks to the Butler County Sheriff's Office mounted patrol. (Photo courtesy of Gary Short/Naomi Strong Facebook)

An 8-year-old Ohio girl battling a rare form of brain cancer had one of her dreams come true over the weekend when she came face to face with a “unicorn.”

Naomi Short was diagnosed with stage-4 brain cancer in October, just five months after her eighth birthday. Her cancer has no known cure.

The little girl’s parents, Gary and Melissa Short, took to social media asking anyone if they had a white horse to arrange for their daughter to meet a unicorn. Their call for help was answered by the Butler County Sheriff’s Office mounted patrol.

In a video posted to the Naomi Strong Facebook page, which is dedicated to helping supporters follow Naomi’s journey, the little girl can be seen walking into a room full of people with a mask on, unaware of the impending magical moment. Naomi is then told to take her mask off; her eyes widen as she gasps and then screams. The white horse was decked out in pink and white flowers, shiny hoofs, and of course, a colorful pretend horn. Naomi quickly made her way over to pet the horse, and even got a chance to ride it.

“It made me cry because not a whole lot really gives her too much joy lately, so to see her get to have something to get excited for, it just warms my heart,” Melissa said. “She still talks about it every time she goes to the doctor anywhere. She brags to everybody, ‘I got to meet a unicorn and I even got to ride it.’”

The next day, Naomi attended the Cincinnati Fairytale Ball in Loveland, Ohio, and the American Legion paid for a beautiful Belle costume and a limousine to take her to the ball. The event, which was organized by Pretty Princess Parties, gave Naomi and other little girls dressed in princess costumes the chance to meet various princesses from several Disney films.

Moments like these have been a bright spot for Naomi and her family since her diagnosis. Her father Gary remembered it like it was yesterday.

Gary tells Yahoo Lifestyle that when doctors said Naomi had cancer, “my heart hit my stomach and I just froze.” He adds, “I'm her dad and I'm supposed to protect her and I didn't, and that just got me so bad. You know, you never felt so helpless in your life, but yet you also know there's nothing you can do except just help them fight.”

Since then, Naomi’s family has been overwhelmed by the kindness and support of their community and strangers. The little girl has also been paying it forward, despite her situation, with a toy drive for the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, which will end on Jan. 31.

“She’s definitely a spunky little girl for sure,” Melissa admits. “When she enters a room, she makes sure everybody knows that she's there. She puts a smile on everybody's face [and] everybody that meets her ends up falling in love with her.”

On Thursday, Naomi had surgery so she could begin her chemotherapy. According to her father, the doctors will run the treatment for three months to see if there is any progress, but in the meantime, they hope to fulfill every item on their daughter’s bucket list, which includes going to the Hollywood sign, appearing on the Ellen Show, meeting Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Ariana Grande and Jojo Siwa. Naomi would also like to experience having a crush.

According to St. Jude, 175,000 children 14 years of age and under are diagnosed with some form of cancer every year, which can be one of the toughest times in a family’s life. Melissa suggests that people going through it lean on family and be open about what they are experiencing.

“No one fights alone,” Gary tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “There [are] way too many groups out there and way too many resources for someone to feel as isolated as we did in the beginning of it. And [it] is not the end of the world just because you heard those words.”

Family members of the Shorts have set up a GoFundMe page to help pay for Naomi's medical bills as well as other expenses the family incurs as they care for their daughter.

Yahoo Lifestyle reached out to the Butler County Sheriff’s Office for comment and will update this post when we hear back.

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