Valley teen gets to meet bone marrow donor at graduation

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It's not your typical graduation, no big stage, gowns, hats, or tassels, but what's here tonight for Stephen Dwyer's high school graduation ceremony is perhaps something far greater.

"It's special to have, I guess, a graduation ceremony with these people and it would've been with my school," said Dwyer.

Stephen Dwyer was diagnosed with leukemia in 2014 -- a genetic disorder lowered his survival rate so he was forced to have a bone marrow transplant. A rough two years it has been for the now 18 year old. 

"Well it was life-changing for our whole family, all of our friends. Just this very healthy, athletic boy that got really sick," said Trisha Dwyer, his mother.

Stephen was set back in school. Following his transplant he was required to take time off, but when he got back he was determined.

Stephen fought to try and walk across that stage in the spring when his classmates did.

"I added an extra class in that last spring semester which was very difficult because I was still getting sick a lot I was very tired, my energy wasn't back to normal quite yet," said Dwyer.

He still fell two credits short. When he found out he was denied, he says it was a terrible feeling.

"It was hard because the last semester of your senior year, that spring semester, that's all everybody talks about," said Dwyer. So it's hard when you're in senior classes with some of your best friends and they're all excited about it, and you know you're not going to be able to do that."

"It was sad, disappointing, but my heart broke for him because it was just another... him being isolated from his peers," said his mother.

Tonight, family friends, his doctors, people who he's inspired over the years, here for him. A ceremony dedicated his courage and graduating high school amid a life altering crisis. 

"All of these people mean so much to me. The last six months have been hard after graduation and these people stepped up," said Dwyer.

And Stephen not forgetting the one who also stepped up to save his life.

He wanted everyone in the room to know exactly who James was.

"If it weren't for a lot of them, I probably would not be here today, especially my donor," said Dwyer.

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