Getting a Gold Award is a rare accomplishment for Girl Scouts in Eastern Washington and north Idaho, so the ceremony already is a special event.
But for Courtney Grant, being able to have her father attend the ceremony eclipsed the excitement of receiving the pin.
Courtney technically was supposed to receive her award -- the highest a Girl Scout can achieve -- in late September, after all the paperwork was filed for her project, which still is ongoing.
The 16-year-old Pasco girl was devastated when she learned her father, Army Sgt. 1st Class Sid Grant, was being deployed to Kuwait ahead of schedule and wouldn't be able to be in Richland for the September ceremony.
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A motorcycle trip with her father had been one of the inspirations for her project, which involved planning a motorcycle tour to raise money to buy wigs for cancer patients.
She petitioned the award committee to make an exception and let her get her pin early, and it agreed to let her receive an honorary award now, and get the official one once the project and the paperwork are complete.
So about 70 people -- including her dad -- gathered in Richland on Friday to watch Courtney be honored for her achievement.
"I was so happy I started crying," Courtney said.
Her mother, Margie Grant, said her daughter had to sacrifice having some of her Girl Scout friends present so that her dad could be there.
"She had to make some really tough decisions," said her mother, who also is Courtney's troop leader. "We're just really proud of all she's done."
Debbie Love, Gold Award committee member, said it was important for Courtney to have her father present because he was the catalyst for her project theme and was one of her chief mentors.
Courtney has invested about 80 hours in her Take Action project, which involved organizing a destination tour for motorcycle riders.
She participated in a similar ride with her dad last year when he returned home from overseas. Together they traveled 6,000 miles in three weeks.
"I had a ton of fun and I wanted to do that again," Courtney said.
The event, called Pink Ribbon Ride for Hope, sends bikers to 15 cancer centers throughout Oregon and Washington where they are charged with taking a photo of themselves next to the hospital.
The ride ends Aug. 14, and photo packets are due the next day to be eligible for prizes, according to the event website.
The ride costs $40 for a single rider, or $60 for two, with proceeds going to the Tri-Cities Cancer Center.
About 30 riders are registered, Courtney said.
Although the motorcycle ride is a fundraiser, raising money can't be the project's final product.
Courtney opted to use the registration fees and money from event sponsors for the cancer center's program that buys wigs for cancer patients.
She has donated 10 wigs so far and hopes to donate five more by the end of the ride.
She chose to help cancer patients because cancer has affected people close to her.
"My best friend's mom was diagnosed with cancer two years ago, and that was really tough on me because she wasn't just my best friend's mom, she was my best friend too," Courtney said.
And her grandmother recently was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer that attacks the nervous system.
"It really changed me," she said. "It really showed me that cancer does hit my family."
The project also allowed Courtney to fulfill a dream she has had since kindergarten.
"When I was little I made a promise to myself that I would go all the way through (Girl Scouts), and to me that meant earning my bronze, silver, and my gold (award)," she said. "If I didn't earn my gold, I would have really disappointed myself."
Love said not many Girl Scouts in the region achieve a Gold Award. This year only 11 out of 238 eligible girls are working on a Gold Award project.
Gold Awards are presented to girls who have completed individual long-term projects that benefit the community.
"We're really proud of her," Love said. "Her project was definitely outside of the box."