(INSIDE EDITION) - It was a Texas man’s dream to watch his daughter graduate from college, so when his ALS no longer allowed him to leave hospital, the college decided to bring graduation to him.
Caitlin Gildenblatt, 22, officially graduated from Oklahoma State University last Thursday at a hospital ceremony held by her dad’s bedside at LifeCare Hospitals in Dallas.
“It just meant the world that they would actually do that,” Gildenblatt told InsideEdition.com. “I thought he was just going to have to watch me on the livestream.”
She said even though her dad, Brad Gildenblatt, has been immobile ever since he was diagnosed with ALS in her sophomore year, it was always the plan that he would make the three-hour trip with her mom to watch her graduate on the big day.
On Easter Weekend, he contracted pneumonia, and doctors said he would have to get a tracheotomy to survive, which would leave him confined to the hospital's ICU.
“I was upset, I was sad, but I knew this is where he needed to be,” she explained. “It was just mixed emotions, because I didn’t want him trying to come to graduation and have something happen. I’d rather him just stay in the hospital and be where he needs to be.”
When Associate Dean of Arts and Sciences Bruce Crauder caught wind of it, he immediately contacted Gildenblatt and her family, and let them know he would be coming up to Dallas to work with the hospital to throw a private graduation.
“We were going to do it in his little ICU room, but they actually got a room with us,” she said. “They decorated it for us, they got chairs, they made cupcakes, there were balloons. It was nice.”
Gildenblatt was even able to walk across the room in her gown and receive her diploma as the dean made a speech in front of her friends and family.
She and her mom then drove to Oklahoma State University the following day so she could walk in school’s ceremony. Her dad, she explained, did get to watch her walk on a livestream.
Graduating with a degree in sociology, Gildenblatt said she now plans to take over her dad’s position in her family’s advertising business and spend some much needed quality time with her family.
“He’s okay,” she said. “We’re finally home, so he’s very happy to be back in his own house.”