Man enables poor 17-year-old to have best ever graduation ceremony

Usually graduating from high school is a great experience for a child — or rather, a young adult. It's an important turning point and most want to celebrate it.

But for 17-year-old Liza from the Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod it wasn't working out that way. The summer of 2016 found Liza, like all of her classmates, studying hard for her final exams and preparing for graduation. But unlike the other teenagers, she wasn't looking forward to the celebration. For one thing, she wasn't even invited.

That's because the graduation ceremony was taking place at a very expensive restaurant. It was going to cost around 15,000 rubles per person (about $250). The average monthly salary in Nizhny Novgorod, by contrast, is only $320. A lot of families simply couldn't afford to pay $250 for one evening even on an important occasion.

Liza has four younger siblings whom her mother looks after while her father is at work. They needed to be economical at the best of times and her parents had to break it to Liza that she wasn't going to the party. They couldn't even buy her a dress for it. It's not easy to be left out of important events at that age and Liza was crushed. 

But then the story took an unexpected turn. Alexander Demin, a former television moderator and internet blogger who happens to know the family personally, found out how sad Liza was. He wanted to help. On his website he wrote an appeal: "This is how we teach our children to have contempt for those with less money." He shared Liza's situation and asked readers for help in transforming Liza into a real graduating star.

Alexander's post instantly spread. It was shared thousands of times. People agreed that Liza deserved to be fêted as fabulously as every other high school graduate. Within a couple of weeks he'd raised over $1,000 in donations.

That was plenty to pay for a gorgeous dress, shoes, and trip to the salon. And not only that: some people were so touched by Liza's story that they offered other gifts, including a computer! She and her family were deeply moved. When her parents saw how wonderful she looked on the big night, they couldn't hold back the tears.

Alexander decided to go all out. With what was left of the donations, he rented a boat for Liza and her friends and set off fireworks for them to end the day with a bang.

A video was shot (in Russian) of the EXTRA special graduation ceremony, so that Liza (and the rest of us) could enjoy it in memory too:

Thanks to a good friend and many generous souls, Liza went from feeling totally left out and disappointed to having the time of her life! Sometimes you just have to celebrate. Congratulations, Liza!

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