Girl, 13, with leukemia helps design Rose Parade float to raise childhood cancer awareness

PASADENA, Calif. (KABC) -- Peyton Richardson is an aspiring ballerina diagnosed with leukemia in 2015. The 13-year-old will start off 2016 by riding in a Swan Lake-themed float she helped design.

Peyton's dream is to see the world's best ballet dancers perform and learn from them.

"I've always said ballet is harder than cancer, and like cancer has taken a lot of things from me. It's taken some friends, it's taken school, it's taken my hair, and I don't want it to take ballet from me," Peyton said, adding that dancing has always helped her get through tough times.

Northwestern Mutual's float aims to raise awareness about childhood cancer.

"Childhood cancer is the most underfunded type of cancer research. So we're trying to make the case that it's important for us to do," said John Kordsmeier with Northwestern Mutual.

Peyton submitted a video entry about her desire to dance and won. So on Wednesday, Peyton's family came in to help decorate and watch the volunteers bring the float to life.

"It was like amazing how detailed everything was and it's amazing. I love it," Peyton said.

"She asked me not to cry when I walked in here today, so I'm trying very hard not to do that, but it's overwhelming and exciting and emotional all at the same time," said Carrie Richardson, Peyton's mother.

Peyton's parents say her leukemia treatments will end in 2017. Starting 2016 at the Rose Parade will go a long way, they say, in giving their daughter the strength to beat cancer.

"Peyton's elated. She's having the time of her life. Our entire family is, and it's a really, really neat day. Can't wait to ride on this float," said Roger Richardson, Peyton's father.
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