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Chicago police honor girl battling terminal cancer with medal of valor

When members of the Chicago Police Department learned about Madison Pruitt's wish to be a police officer as she battles terminal cancer, they had a whole day set up just for her.

However, Madison, 6, was in such poor health that the ride-along and other festivities the CPD's sixth precinct had planned were not going to be feasible. Instead, the police decided to bring the celebration to her. Eighty officers, including Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson, went to Madison's house on Wednesday to award her a medal of valor, give her a uniform and name her an honorary police officer.

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Madison Pruitt, 6, was honored by the Chicago Police Department with a medal of valor and a certificate as an honorary police officer as she battles a rare form of muscular cancer.

"I was overwhelmed,'' Madison's grandmother, Pamlor Nelson, told TODAY.com. "I didn't think that it was going to be that big. I was mentally and physically drained, but that just gave us a boost.

After it was over, Madison was sitting up in bed, watching TV and talking. She was wide awake after that."

Saturday will mark a year since Madison was diagnosed with a rare form of muscle cancer that has since spread throughout her body. She currently is in hospice care, and one of her caretakers contacted the sixth precinct to see if anything could be done for Madison. The little girl had told social worker Lindsay Wooster with Journey Care Hospice that she wanted to grow up to be a police officer so she could "help people."

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"We thought we needed to do something better than just a small meeting,'' CPD chief spokesperson Anthony Guglielmi told TODAY.com. "We were all touched by her story and really wanted to give her a special day."

The officers were going to do a special roll call for Madison before honoring her. When they heard she couldn't make it to the precinct, they brought the roll call to her. All 80 of them then individually greeted her and remarked on her bravery after she was presented with a uniform, an honorary certificate as a lifelong police officer, and a medal of valor.

The officers also brought horses from the department and several K-9 dogs.

"She really enjoyed the horses,'' Nelson said. "They ate some weeds off a bush, and she giggled at that."

"Madison Pruitt is an inspiration to all of us at the Chicago Police Department," Johnson told TODAY.com. "Her unwavering will and courage to fight a terrible disease is a sobering reminder of why we do what we do: to serve and protect the city of Chicago. Madison's lifelong dream was to become a police officer so she could protect people and it's been my greatest honor and privilege to be able to appoint her as an honorary lifelong officer of the Chicago Police Department."

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Nelson said the family is "praying for a miracle,'' but they are grateful to see Madison's wish granted.

"I did promise her that whichever way this goes, everybody would know about her and her story,'' Nelson said. "I didn't know it was going to happen. The police were wonderful."

Follow TODAY.com writer Scott Stump on Twitter.

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