Katelyn Norman wanted to be there Tuesday but could not – so her town celebrated her

By Stephen M. Silverman
March 28, 2013 08:15 AM
Credit: Courtesy Michael Dayah

It was a dream of 14-year-old Tennessean Katelyn Norman to attend her prom.

But on her way there Tuesday night, Norman, who has an aggressive bone cancer called osteosarcoma, experienced difficulty breathing and had to be airlifted back to Tennessee Children’s Hospital.

Katie had been informed last weekend that “it has spread a lot, my cancer, and that it’s the beginning of the end of my days,” she told WATE-TV. With the prom planned in her honor, Katie insisted the dance still take place, despite her medical complications.

Her town did not let her down.

Inside her hospital room, family and friends threw a personalized prom for Katie, with her date presenting her with a corsage and a “Prom Queen” sash. Outside, hundreds of people took to the streets of Campbell County for a vigil.

Also attending the school’s public prom – whose theme was “Katie in the Sky with Diamonds” – was Mayor William Bailey, who had declared Tuesday “Katelyn Norman Day.”

School nurse Sharon Shepherd, who organized the dance, told attendees, “Nothing to be down. Nothing to be upset. We’re sad that she’s not here physically, but she’s here in spirit,” reports WVLT.

The station quoted Katie’s friend Brandon Huckaby as saying, “Her whole fight has been about, ‘I’m not facing death. I’m inspiring others.’ ”

Attending the prom was part of Katie’s bucket list that she posted to Facebook after she learned her diagnosis last weekend. Also on the list, in the top spot, was a motorcycle ride – which was held for her last weekend by the Shepherds Riders Club. Unable to sit on a bike, Katie was surrounded by the riders as she rode inside a car.

And Katie continues to be shown the love, says WVLT, in the form of the community’s “wearing green, tying green bows around town, and sending good wishes to the family.”