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Sweet Julia Grace Foundation Carolers Help Family Dance in Rain for Holidays

| December 25, 2014 | Community
Carolers hold up letters spelling "JOY."

Carolers hold up letters spelling “JOY.”

Approximately 60 carolers and Princess Elsa helped the Rancourt family celebrate the holidays Thursday, Dec. 18, in the “The Second Annual Joy-filled Christmas Celebration” organized by The Sweet Julia Grace Foundation,

Pastor Jacques Rancourt and his wife Emily are an incredible couple who suffered through a tremendously difficult year. They were still grieving the passing of one of their children in a previous year. Then this year, the daughter they recently adopted from China, Lily Grace, 5, suffered a heart condition. Lily survived a heart transplant but is still dependent on oxygen. Another child they recently adopted from China, Thaddeus, 2 and ½, is also suffering from a heart condition. Sadly, his condition is inoperable.

Emily, Jacque and Thaddeus Rancourt react joyfully to the holiday surprise. (Photo courtesy of Sweet Julia Grace Foundation.)

Emily, Jacques and Thaddeus Rancourt react joyfully to the holiday surprise. (Photo courtesy of Sweet Julia Grace Foundation.)

Wanting to provide Rancourts with a little joy around the holidays, a friend called Sara Knight of Bristow founder of The Sweet Julia Grace Foundation to ask if Lily Grace could become a “Raindancer.”

“’Raindancers’ are children who are not waiting for the storms of their lives to pass before they ‘dance in the rain,” Knight explained. “We are dedicated to showering blessings onto children who are chronically or seriously ill, have special needs, or in the midst of a medical crisis.”

Knight formed the foundation after her daughter Julia Grace Knight passed away in November of 2013. Julia was an inspiration to everyone she met, and Knight wanted to carry on in Julia’s memory by bringing joy to others.

“That’s one of our goals,” she said. “[For] these kids who dance in the rain just giving them a moment in time where they don’t have to think about anything else in their lives but their family, friends and the celebration [makes all the difference,]” she said.

Knight immediately responded to the request to help Lily Grace. However, before the foundation could organize an event, Lily was scheduled for a heart transplant. The Rancourts also entered the process of adopting Thaddeus.

Three of the Rancourt girls open holiday presents while Elsa visits. (Photo courtesy of Sweet Julia Grace Foundation.)

Three of the Rancourt girls open holiday presents while Elsa visits. (Photo courtesy of Sweet Julia Grace Foundation.)

By the time Lily and Thaddeus were both home with their family, the holidays were fast approaching. Knight decided to throw the family a holiday themed event, a flash Christmas carol, in which the larger community could participate.

Knight said she tries to hold at least one community event around the holiday even though her events are usually private affairs.

“I know that people are looking for ways to be a part of giving and be a part of something bigger,” she said.

To organize the carol, Knight worked closely with the Rancourt’s neighbors and reached out to her network via The Sweet Julia Foundation Facebook page.

Bristow and Gainesville community members practice their carols in Linton Crest before arriving at the Rancourt home. (Photo courtesy of Sweet Julia Grace Foundation.)

Bristow and Gainesville community members practice their carols in Linton Crest before arriving at the Rancourt home. (Photo courtesy of Sweet Julia Grace Foundation.)

On the evening of the event, carolers arrived with food and gifts. Departing from a neighbor’s home, a group of carolers walked down the street of the Linton Crest neighborhood, singing “Joy to the World.” On the Rancourt’s lawn, they then sang other Christmas songs for the family, ending with “Amazing Grace,” led by Princess Elsa.

All of the carolers had their own reasons for wanting to get involved to help the family.

“[Julia Grace Knight] was a tremendous inspiration to all of us,” said Pastor Stroud, who is the Knight’s next door neighbor.

McKenzie Rancourt danced as the carolers sang to her family.

McKenzie Rancourt danced as the carolers sing to her family.

“I followed [the Rancourts] on Facebook through friends. We’re actually adopting from China as well,” said Sherry Doyle of Bristow who brought her whole family out to carol.

The Rancourts reacted to the performance with glee. Daughter MacKenzie, 5, danced on the doorsteps, Thaddeus and Lily looked up in amazement from their parents arms, and the two older girls smiled graciously.

Emily Raincourt was amazed at all the foundation had organized, noting it went beyond the caroling to include a visit from Elsa, courtesy of Rachel Gray of Joy to the Kids, Inc. and generous gifts such as a Wii, a karaoke machine and a cake by Stacked in Manassas. However, what was most important to Emily was the reprieve the experience gave her family.

Princess Elsa is amazed by how much the Stacked cake looks like her. (Photo courtesy of Sweet Julia Grace Foundation.)

Princess Elsa is amazed by how much the Stacked cake looks like her. (Photo courtesy of Sweet Julia Grace Foundation.)

“Joy came to our house last night by way of the Sweet Julia Grace Foundation and Joy to the Kids [Inc.]! What a magical moment in time when our family was not in crisis mode, and our children were able to be lavished with love,’” Emily said.

Afterward, even Jacques cried as Elsa sang “Let it Go,” something neither of them expected would happen because, as Emily said, “Let’s face it we’ve heard [the song] a trillion times.”

Carolers sing outside the Rancourt home in Linton Crest.

Carolers sing, holding a string of snowflakes, outside the Rancourt home in Linton Crest.

Knight was pleased by the turnout at the event, and said The Sweet Julia Grace Foundation plans to  continue to hold an annual Christmas carols since the families and community both seem to love it.

Knight wants to encourage readers to send more Raindancers her way. Readers can learn more about the Sweet Julia Grace Foundation on their website and Facebook page.

© 2014, Bristow Beat. All rights reserved.

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