Family of homecoming queen touched by the gesture of the rest of the court

Published: Oct. 6, 2019 at 6:44 PM EDT
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Sunday, October 6, 2019

News 12 at 6 O'Clock

JOHNSTON, SC (WRDW/WAGT) -- One act of kindness went a long way for Nataleigh Deal and her family at the Strom Thurmond High School football game Friday night.

Nataleigh is a senior who has Down syndrome and epilepsy, and her family said over stimulation could trigger an episode.

Before she took the field Friday night, Nataleigh had a seizure.

"As soon as we got down to her seat and she started saying 'I just don't feel well,'" said Nataleigh's sister, Carleigh. Carleigh was her escort for the homecoming ceremony. "We got her to sit down and she just fell out and went into a seizure."

Not even the seizure could keep Nataleigh away from the halftime ceremony, where she was up for homecoming queen. She said she felt too uneasy to wear her heels, so she decided to go barefoot thinking no one would notice.

But the other girls up for queen did notice. When they heard Nataleigh wouldn't be wearing shoes, they kicked theirs off too.

"When we got out there, they all lined up before Nataleigh came out to line up with them," Carleigh said. "When I came out there, literally not a single one of them had their shoes on. Not even the homecoming elect from the year before who was crowning."

Nataleigh's mom, Dawn Ford, said the whole day was a surreal experience. She was filled with emotion seeing the support for her daughter.

"I knew Nataleigh was loved and embraced at Strom Thurmond High School, but I had no idea the magnitude of it until Friday night," Ford said.

And to top it all off, Nataleigh was named homecoming queen.

"I am proud of myself for being queen of Strom Thurmond High," she said. "I love my friends more than anything. They're proud of me. Go Rebels."

The family said they're so grateful for the love and support they have gotten from the community. Ford said at first they were a little worried about sending Nataleigh to public school.

She said Friday was just a reminder that it was the best decision they could have made for Nataleigh.

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