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Denise Sánchez and Elvis Presley. April 19, 1972

Denise Sánchez, an 8-year-old girl from Santa Fe, New Mexico, had been a big Elvis Presley fan since she was 4 years old.

After Christmas 1971, Denise was diagnosed with cancer. One leg and part of his hip had to be amputated in order to remove a large tumor that had been detected. Very soon after, the cancer had already spread to his lungs.

Her doctors decided to stop the chemotherapy she had been receiving, since there was nothing more that could be done for her.

Months later, Denise’s mother, Trudi, learned that Elvis would be performing in Albuquerque on April 19, 1972, and had the opportunity to purchase two tickets to the show.

His daughter was fascinated, but as the show approached, she relapsed and was told she would be unable to endure the effort of traveling 65 miles to see Elvis. The girl cried for several days and begged her mother to take her to the show.

She wanted to see Elvis in person before she died. Finally, his mother and the doctors agreed to his request.

Two days before the show, Mrs. Sánchez was suggested to take his story to the newspapers for publication. So she contacted an Albuquerque Journal reporter named Grace Marie Prather who helped her set up a meeting with Colonel Parker on the afternoon of the show.

They spoke with him at length about Denise’s health and her desire to see Elvis, and Parker told them to be at the Hilton Hotel at 4 p.m. and that he would find a way to help.

Trudi took her daughters, Denise and Paula and her two best friends, Emma and Belinda Cantu to the hotel at the required time. Prather also went, in order to document the meeting. Parker asked them to be at the stadium at 5 p.m. and told them that Denise could meet Elvis after the concert. The entire group was moved to Tingley Coliseum and assigned special locations.

Denise was restless, anxious for the preview of the show to end so she could finally meet her idol.

During the interval, she and her people were invited to go to Elvis’ dressing room. Denise was very scared, afraid of Presley’s reaction to her missing leg and her lack of hair.

Elvis looked at her and knelt in front of her, kissing her on both cheeks. He told her she was beautiful and her mother burst into tears. She couldn’t believe how affectionate Elvis was with his daughter and how good he made her feel.

Shyly, Denise unrolled a poster and asked him to sign it. Elvis did it with the dedication: “…To Denise – I love you, Elvis Presley.” The girl then asked him to dedicate a song to her, which he did with “You Gave Me A Mountain”, explaining to the audience: “this is a song for a very special little girl that I just met.”

Denise Sánchez

Denise was ecstatic and cried throughout the song.

When she returned home she told her mother that under no circumstances was she going to wash her face where Elvis had kissed her. Three days later, he was still insisting on the same thing. Finally, on the fourth day, her mother managed to convince her that she should wash her face.

Elvis brightened Denise’s short life and helped her endure her misfortune a little better.

Source: YouTube
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