Fenton's Gabrielle Ford to Ride in America's Thanksgiving Day Parade
Ford to ride on float ahead of a school bus of Fenton children.
Ford, 31, will be part of the 85th annual America’s Thanksgiving Parade in Detroit on Nov. 24.
This year’s theme will be “So Much to Believe In,” something that Ford preaches in her anti-bullying message. She will ride on a float as America’s Voice For the Bullied with a school bus of Fenton children behind her.
“I didn't plan on affecting people, it just happened with the life story or hand I was dealt,” Ford said, “One person said, ‘you didn't find your meaning and purpose in life, it found you and you’re a hero to thousands of students bullied in American schools every year.’”
She will ride starting at 9:20 a.m. on Woodward Avenue in Detroit. The nationally broadcast parade will be aired locally in metro Detroit on WDIV Local 4 and WJR 760 AM radio.
Doctors diagnosed Ford with Friedriech's Ataxia (FA) at age 12. About one in 50,000 people in the United States have FA, a debilitating, life-shortening, degenerative neuro-muscular disorder that weakens the body's muscles, which even can make speaking difficult. It was the reason Ford was bullied in school.
There is also a possibility Ford will award a puppy to a little girl who has been diagnosed with the same disease, said Ford’s mother Rhonda Hillman. She said they are working with WDIV-TV Channel 4 and a local family.
“This is going to be so nice,” Hillman said. “We have family coming in from out of state. This is going to be fun. We are very honored and excited.”
Hillman said she always believed Ford’s calling in life was to spread the message of anti-bullying.
“She has such a gift. She just connects with kids,” Hillman said.
Hillman said she began researching how people became a part of the parade. She submitted an application that included Ford’s story and she was selected to participate.
“We were honored to be picked,” Hillman said.