#UPDATE |Homecoming court rallies around new queen

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EDGEFIELD, Sc (WJBF) – #UPDATE | Nataleigh has been invited to participate in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tennessee in December.

Her family has created a Go Fund Me page to help her attend. She is very excited about this opportunity. Click here if you’d like to help!


Edgefield, Sc. (WJBF) – For most teenage girls it’s their dream to be Homecoming Queen. At Strom Thurmond High School, 11 girls kicked off the night for one girl in a way she’ll never forget.

For Strom Thurmond senior Nataleigh Deal, Homecoming Week was the time of her life. “Dressing up during the homecoming week was kind of very fun,” she said. Her mother, Dawn Ford, said that Nataleigh had to make posters and write an essay as a candidate for queen. “And her essay turned out very nice. They had to write about what it meant to them to be a Strom Thurmond Rebel.”

But come Friday night, things didn’t go as planned. “She was just saying ‘I don’t feel good. Help me. I don’t feel good.’ And next thing you know as soon as she sat down she just went into a seizure,” said Carleigh Deal, Nataleigh’s sister.

Nataleigh was cleared to take the field for the ceremony, but because she was still unsteady, she was going to have to do it without her shoes. When the other girls heard about it, they removed theirs too.

Jahonna Miles, first runner up for Homecoming Queen, describes what happened. “And we were all questioning, ‘Is she okay? Is she okay?’ And Ms. Gordon said, the teacher at Strom Thurmond, said ’We’re going to get her ok.’ So, they took her into the field house and Ms. Gordon came back about five minutes later and said ‘Well are y’all willing to take your shoes off? Because Nataleigh is not going to be able to walk in her heels.’ And we all immediately took our shoes off.”

Ford, says the support her daughter has received is humbling. “The magnitude of the love that the school and her peers and just the school as a whole have for her, I didn’t understand it until Friday night.” Carleigh says sending a loved one with special needs into the world can be scary. But that Nataleigh hasn’t had many issues. “And all the things that you worry about, especially with having a special needs kid, you are always worried about, are they going to be accepted, are they going to be included?”

The family hopes that their story will send a message of love and acceptance. “Love has no disability. Especially in this situation. So it’s just one of those things where I think it’s a lesson that everyone can take away and apply to their daily life But I think it’s especially important that kids are expressing it and kids are the prime example of it in this situation.”

Students believe that random acts of kindness such as this will continue at Strom Thurmond.

As for Nataleigh, after graduations she plans to attend Clemson University and become a part of the Life Program.

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