LUBBOCK, Texas — Lubbock-Cooper High School students organized the first Valentine Pal Day event at their school for their peers with special needs. They also honored former student Hannah Grace, who died in 2015.
The event was put together by senior Catherine Wright with the help of several school organizations including the pom, cheer and football teams. Students also created flower arrangements and took photographs.
Kyndal Adame is a senior this year who said she knew Grace through cheerleading in middle school.
“I think it’s extra hard this year because it’s senior year. We would be graduating together, but I also think that this holiday is the perfect holiday that we should be celebrating Hannah, because it’s about love and she had the most love in the world for everyone,” Adame said.
Grace’s parents were given recognition and flowers at the event. Her father, Keith Benable, said Grace was the best person he knew.
“Even though she was developmentally disabled and cognitively disabled she was extremely brave,” he said. “She was not afraid to try anything such as trying out for cheerleader with the normal girls.”
Benable said Grace’s influence was so special that it changed the lives of her fellow classmates.
“She had down syndrome and I guess being on the cheer team with the normal girls, so to speak, really affected their lives and made the girls realize that special needs kids are not scary and that they have stories to tell and that they have a life that’s worth living,” he said.
Sophomore Emma Bailey said she was grateful her classmates helped put the event together.
“I tell you that this is a very good time for me in a way because not many people have done this before. I mean it’s just really cool,” said Bailey.