12-year-old patient lights Swedes Christmas tree

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - SwedishAmerican made this holiday even more special for one of its own patients during its annual Light the Lights tree lighting.

12-year-old Rylan Garcia, of Belvidere, served as this year's honorary tree lighter.

Rylan was diagnosed with Cyclic Vomiting Syndrome and has spent 90% of his life in a hospital. Now two years in remission, Rylan's family says his outlook is good and he continues to gain strength each day.

"It's been tremendous. He's gone from walking to independently getting into the car. He's gained a lot of strength. It's an honor, especially for Rylan because he's such a blessing and he was so excited to do it," says Rylan's mom Hope Garcia.

Swedes says this is the first time a patient has been chosen as a tree lighter since the tradition began more than 20 years ago.