Homecoming Court Goes Barefoot in Solidarity With Fellow Contestant
When one of the girls had a seizure before the game and couldn't wear heels, they made sure she wouldn't feel left out.
Members of the Strom Thurmond High School homecoming court in South Carolina looked beautiful as they walked on to the field during last week's football game. But there was something noticeably missing from each of their outfits -- their shoes!
The candidates all went barefoot in solidarity with 19-year-old Nataleigh Deal, a member of the court who has Down Syndrome and suffers from epileptic seizures. She had a seizure before the game and still wanted to participate, but because her body wasn't yet stable, she couldn't wear her heels. So, the other girls on the court kicked off their shoes and cheered on Nataleigh when she won the crown.
"She was well enough during half time to walk again, but couldn't wear her heels," Nataleigh's sister Carleigh shared in a Facebook post . "So instead of leaving her the oddball out, every. single. girl. on homecoming court took their shoes off, too."
"The inclusion and love will never be matched." - Carleigh Deal
One of the girls on the court, Lillian Mann, said she didn't even have to think about it when asked why she took off her shoes.
"My first thoughts about walking across barefoot were, 'Of course, I'll do it!' Not only because my heels were hurting my feet, but mainly to make Nataleigh feel better," Mann told ABC News . "Nataleigh is such a sweet person and watching her have her seizure made me want to do anything I could to help her feel like the queen she is."
Others in the community shared their support of the girls, including the school's assistant principal, Crystal Lotz Hadden. Hadden posted a few photos on Facebook along with the following comment: "I'm honored to know these beautiful young ladies. You are all queens. Pride. Class. Courage. Will to win."
While Nataleigh was the only member of the court crowned Homecoming Queen that night, all of the young ladies went home as winners.
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(Source: images Crystal Lotz Hadden Facebook )