Starbucks store saves the day for teen with cerebral palsy after senior photo session rained out

FOUNTAIN, Colo. -- A mom and photographer wanted nothing more than to give Sydney, a teen with cerebral palsy, the same kind of senior photos that every other high schooler gets. When rain forced them inside, the staff in a Starbucks store stepped up to make sure Sydney got something more.

"I just wanted her to have the average senior session, like any other girl and instead she got THE RED CARPET in a way I couldn't have been more proud to be a part of!" Sydney's photographer, Jessica Vallia, wrote on Facebook.

Her mom, Laura Johansson, said Sydney will graduate from her Colorado Springs high school in 2019.

"She's outlived everybody's expectations," she told KKTV. "It's pretty remarkable."

Sydney's senior pictures had to be done on Sunday because she has a major surgery coming up, so when it started to downpour, Vallia explained, she was worried the day was turning into a disaster.

"We ended up in the Starbucks parking lot because it seemed like the most trendy, teenager-y thing that we could possibly do," she told KKTV.

Johansson ran inside to ask if they might take some photos, explaining she would completely understand if the answer was no. Instead, a supervisor named Chris gave them the star treatment. He even got himself soaked as he escorted Sydney inside with an umbrella.

Once inside, the whole store came together to set up a special station for the photos, including optimizing the lighting and creating a backdrop.

"Ten minutes later they came back with all these signs and started hanging them up in the corner and moving stuff so that we could shoot there," Vallia reflected. "And I'm like, 'My gosh. OK, we can't cry right now. We'll cry about this later.'"

They also insisted on making them comfortable with free food and drinks.

"We were literally invading their place of business and they were not letting us pay for ANYTHING," Sydney's mom wrote on Facebook.

Johansson wrote that Sydney was having a blast, smiling the whole time.

"#StarbucksChris & Sydney are best friends for life," she wrote.

Reflecting on the day, Johansson wouldn't change a thing.

"All of these fates aligned and gave me the most perfect story for my most perfect kid," she said, "and I couldn't have asked for anything better."
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