ARVADA, Colo. — When it comes to gifts, they say it's the thought that counts. Saturday afternoon in an Arvada neighborhood, everyone gathered to think about a woman dying of cancer.
"Patty is the reason we're all here, she got a bad diagnosis of cancer. We miss her every day," Patty's friend Vicki Burke said.
Patty Gabriel is a 1970 graduate of Holy Family High School. Her siblings attended school there and her family has either worked or volunteered at Holy Family for decades.
"You only have to tell one person at Holy Family then everybody knows," Burke said.
She put a call out to the Holy Family community to borrow 90 minutes of their time to sing Christmas carols as a surprise for Gabriel.
"Oh, I thought maybe 15 or 20 folks, but they never ever, ever stop amazing me," Burke said.
She estimates more than 200 people showed up.
"We just want her to know how much we love her and this is the last gift we feel we can give her," Burke said. "The best gift of all is song."
The crowd marched down the street and gathered in front of Gabriel's home. She came out with family as the carolers sang favorites like Silent Night and Jingle Bells.
"It was a big surprise," Matthew Gabriel, Patty's son, said. "This community that we're in is just amazing."
Gwen Berens, Patty's daughter, sat with her holding her hand during the songs.
"She just said, there's no words to express how much this meant to her," Berens said. "No money was spent and it's not a material gift. But, it's the most beautiful gift we could have gotten."
It's the gift Burke had to give.
"I miss my friend," Burke said. "Merry Christmas, Patty."