The title of homecoming queen is typically reserved for the head cheerleader or student class president, but not so at one Texas high school where this year’s queen saw hundreds of onlookers moved to tears as she was crowned.
“There wasn’t a dry eye to be seen,” said Carolyn Pass, the mother of newly crowned queen Kristin Pass, who was born with Down syndrome 18 years ago. Kristin was thrilled to receive the crown. “I was surprised and happy,” she said. The crowd at the Aledo High School football stadium erupted into cheers and gave her a standing ovation during halftime. “Her smile was probably as big as the state of Texas,” said Hust of her niece’s reaction to her prize. “She kept mouthing ‘thank you’ from the stage.
Down syndrome affects one in every 733 babies born each year, according to the National Down Syndrome Society, and occurs when a person has three, not two, copies of the 21st chromosome. And while some may assume Pass’ condition might alienate her from her peers, the teen’s family and friends say that she’s always had a lot of friends. “I don’t think there is another human in this world who has as many friends as Kristin does,” said Chari Hust, Kristin’s aunt. “She’s a great kid.”
“Everyone in the stands burst into tears – I’ve never heard anything so loud in my life,” Hust said. “Everyone was on their feet yelling, ‘Yeah, Kristin!’ louder than they had been cheering during the game…There was no campaign to make sure that Kristin won — this naturally happened,” Hust said. “She is the coolest kid in the whole wide world.”
On top of battling the hardships of living with Down syndrome, Kristin’s father died suddenly two years ago. Her father’s absence meant tweaking the high school’s tradition of having the homecoming queen candidates escorted to the event by their fathers. For Kristin, it was her grandfather, David Campbell, who led her onstage to be crowned. “It was very emotional,” said Campbell, who also drove the red convertible Kristin rode in during the homecoming parade. “You can’t measure how proud I was. Every fiber in my body was happy for her. “She didn’t say much (when she was crowned), she was too busy smiling,” he said. “I gave her a kiss on the cheek and a hug and she was kind-of letting it soak in. It got real when we got to the sidelines. All her friends came over and she was giving high-fives to everyone.”
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