IRVINE, Calif. (KABC) --A U.C. Irvine senior, who missed his graduation ceremony due to a rare condition that required eye surgery, received a huge surprise by his school and fellow classmates.
Christopher Sweica thought he would never get an opportunity to receive his diploma at a commencement ceremony. The U.C. Irvine water polo player missed his graduation because he nearly lost his eyes.
"When they told me I had to have another procedure and I had to go back facedown for a long time, it was pretty crushing," Sweica said.
After multiple surgeries to reattach his retinas and long recovery periods, Chris' eyes are on the mend.
But he still missed his dream of graduating alongside his best friends and teammates.
"When they told me I was going to have to miss it, I was really bummed, but there's just nothing you can do about it," said Sweica. "I just had to, you know, put my head down."
However, Sweica's grandmother Sandra Schrader refused to do nothing. She wrote a letter to the UCI'S chancellor that read, in part, "I'm sure this is an unusual request, but it would mean a great deal to Christopher and his loving family."
She requested for another chance for Sweica and his friends to graduate together.
"We immediately got excited about the opportunity. We reached out, we talked to Mrs. Schrader, and the rest is history," said UCI Chancellor Howard Gillman.
Moved by the letter, Gillman and his team organized the commencement re-do, complete with speakers, a diploma and a turning of the tassels. All of this was an emotional surprise for Sweica.
"All my family here, all my friends, and knowing that so many people want to go out of their way to make sure I have a fun experience," Sweica said.
Scrader said the event was unexpected, to say the least.
"I had no idea that this letter would create this unbelievable event, which we are sincerely appreciative of," Scrader said.