14-year-old cancer survivor to ride on City of Hope float in Pasadena Rose Parade

PASADENA, Calif. (KABC) -- Fourteen-year-old Jackie Garcia almost lost her life to bone cancer, but now she's a survivor and one of several people working on a special City of Hope float for the Rose Parade.

Because of her battle with cancer, she has life in perspective. She was knocked down by the disease at age 10, but as she's gotten older, she has been able to pick herself back up.

"I feel very excited because I've never done this before," she said.

It's a race against time to get the City of Hope float finished in time for the Tournament of Roses parade.

And just like all volunteers feverishly working on the many floats in the Pavilion in Pasadena, Jackie is thrilled to be in the middle of it. She enjoys having a way to give back to the hospital she credits with saving her life.

"I'm very thankful for them and also God, because they all helped me through my journey," she said.

Not only is she working on the float, but the teen will also be riding on it at the parade with seven other cancer survivors and doctors, who she sees as life-saving angels.

For Jackie's mother, Christmas with her daughter is the biggest gift she could ever have, and to see her child waving at tens of thousands of people in the parade is just icing on the cake.

"It's just the best gift for every day for me. I think about it every day and I thank God every single day, minute, any chance that I get," Norma Zavalza said. "She's now a survivor...it's just a feeling that you can't explain. It's just overwhelming with joy for me."

After battling cancer, Jackie said life has taught her an important lesson, and it's one she wants to pass on to her peers.

"I would just tell them try to be happy. I know you get mood swings, but just try to be happy," she said.

The theme of the float is "the miracle of science with soul." The theme of the parade is "echoes of success." The Rose Parade starts at 8 a.m. on Jan. 2.
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