By David Madden

MARLTON, N.J. (CBS) — A Burlington County, New Jersey teenager who is battling brain cancer graduated Friday night from Cherokee High School. Earlier this week, she received a courage award from county freeholders.

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The Loretta O’Donnell award, remembering a county employee who succumbed to cancer, was given to Katie Bednarek, whose nine-month battle with brain cancer modified, but did not halt her quest to graduate. With honors no less. Burlington County freeholder director Bruce Gargaino says Bednarek’s fight has tugged on the heartstrings of all of who know her.

“She epitomizes what this award is for,” he says. “Someone who’s fighting and struggling and has her head held high and you know what? We’re rooting for her.”

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Her treatments kept her off the lacrosse field this spring, but she was on the sidelines for just about every game. And her presence was an inspiration to teammates and opponents alike.

“For a kid that’s going through the struggles, she’s happy,” Gargaino says. “She’s a joy to be around because she is such a role model for everyone at such a young age.”

Katie also went to her senior prom where she was voted prom queen.

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