No Shoes So No One Is Left Behind


via Good Morning America

The Strom Thurmond Homecoming Court smiles for a picture after taking off their shoes to support their classmate who could not wear her heels.

Sydney Dunlap, Staff Reporter

Homecoming season can often be seen as a time that focuses on outer appearances. People dress up in their fanciest outfits and high heels to try and be recognized as a king or queen. However, a South Carolina school recently helped remind everyone of the compassion and joy that still be found during Homecoming. At Strom Thurmond High School in Edgefield, South Carolina, one student nominated for homecoming queen had to walk barefoot on the field during her school’s half-time presentation. Nataleigh Deal has epilepsy, and she suffered a seizure at the beginning of the football game. While she was able to recover enough by the end of the second quarter to be able to walk on the field, Deal was not going to be able to wear the high heels she had planned. Instead of Deal being the odd one out, the nineteen other nominees decided to take off their shoes as well. 

The unusual ceremony proved to be an extraordinary moment for Deal and her family, as well as for the community. Deal, who also has Down Syndrome, won Homecoming Queen that night. As she told ABC News, “At that moment when I found out I couldn’t wear heels, I didn’t feel too good. I heard [them] saying my name and [then] I became homecoming queen. I was feeling much better.” Her unfortunate situation ultimately turned into a happy one when her community came together to support her accomplishment and the rest of the Homecoming court nominees. 

Deal’s story has now become a nationally recognized story, but it still meant the most to Deal and her family. As her mother stated on her Facebook page, “I have cried more times today than I have in a while thinking about how blessed we are to be in a community that loves our girl beyond what we could’ve ever comprehended before Friday night.” Her story has touched people’s hearts throughout the country. As junior Caitlin O’Hare stated, “I thought that it was a really awesome story and very sweet.” The nominees had no problem kicking off their shoes and looking a little unusual in order to show support for their classmate in need. Their kind actions help to showcase the real meaning of Homecoming, having fun, and coming together as a community.