MOUNT PLEASANT, N.C. -- It is homecoming at Mount Pleasant High School. The band is warming up. The stadium is filling up. The cheerleaders are getting revved up.
A dozen girls are getting ready for the biggest night of their high school lives. They have been voted on to the homecoming court to represent the school at the big game. Six of them, the seniors, are in the running for queen.
But there is one that stands out.
“People just love her. She walks into a room and the room just lights up,” said Anita Kluttz, the student council advisor and special needs teacher at Mount Pleasant High School.
She is talking about Dani Greenwood. Dani is in her special needs class. She has Down syndrome and is favored to win queen.
“Everybody knows Dani. Dani is, she is little miss Mount Pleasant, little miss Tiger. She is in everybody’s business…knows more about what’s going on at this school than anybody else does,” Kluttz added.
Shy she is not, especially around our cameras.
Mom Jodi fights back tears as she talks about the big day.
“When I first found out that I was having a child with Down syndrome, they give you all your options,” Dani’s mother said. “My biggest thing is I cried that she wouldn't go to prom...and now here she is in the running for queen. I am excited. I'm nervous. I’m going to try not to cry because I am so proud of her.”
The first true fall day, the temperatures are dipping with the sun as the hometown crowd settles in for the start of the game. Dani is in the stands with her best friend.
“We like sisters, and friends…sisters and best friends,” Dani screamed.
“Everyone is so accepting of her because we just see her as any other normal person…consider her one of us,” said senior Macey Andrews.
Just before halftime, the homecoming king climbs into the stands to hug Dani. At halftime, the homecoming court is introduced to the crowd.
Dani is arm in arm with her stepdad as she is announced as the senior class attendant, the runner up. The student body president is named queen.
Dani was first runner up. She won the senior class two to one in votes and narrowly lost the crown.
No matter. She walks with pride, waving to the crowd, her flowers and her head held high.
Afterwards, Dani is surrounded by her classmates.
“I’m just happy because she deserves it and everybody loves her and it just shows that people do love her,” said friend and senior Mandi Kluttz.
Mom Jodi is overwhelmed.
“I don't want to start crying on camera, but I’m just really, really proud of her,” she said. “This whole community is just incredible."