Fourteen-year-old Katelyn Norman doesn’t have much time left. Doctors say osteosarcoma, a form of bone cancer, will soon take the Tennessee teen’s life. But it hasn’t stolen all her chances to experience the joys of being young — including the prom.
Katelyn hoped she’d be well enough to attend a personalized prom at her school Tuesday night, but that afternoon she had trouble breathing and had to be hospitalized. Her friends and family rallied, bringing the event to her hospital room, where her date presented her with a corsage and a “Prom Queen” sash.
Katelyn insisted that the prom at school proceed without her: “She contacted me and said prom must go on — that’s her, and you can’t help but feed off that energy, that life,” said the organizer.
LAFOLLETTE (WATE) – There wasn’t a fancy dress or even a dance floor, but on Tuesday night family and friends helped cross off the number one thing on a teen with terminal cancer’s bucket list.
Katelyn Norman, 14, has been fighting bone cancer for months, last week she got word her chemotherapy treatments were no longer working. Katelyn made a bucket list that included going to prom, and the Campbell County community pitched into make it happen.
But Tuesday afternoon, Katelyn was having difficulty breathing and was rushed to Children’s Hospital. When she couldn’t go to the dance, they brought the dance to her.
In stable condition and in high spirits, Katelyn was able to have a make shift prom in her room.
The hospital staff decorated the room and her date gave her a corsage and a special sash. Family and friends gathered outside with candles.
Meanwhile, in Campbell County, the celebration of Katelyn was taking place.
The music was blaring, the decorations were hung, it was meant to be Katelyn’s perfect night, and she wanted it to go on, even if she wasn’t there.
“She contacted me and said prom must go on, that’s her, and you can’t help but feed off that energy, that life,” said Sharon Shepard, an instructor at Katelyn’s school and organizer of the prom.
The night was a celebration of Katelyn, featuring all her favorite things. But most important, the people she loves most.
“Once you meet her your life will never be the same, she has such an impact,” Shepard said.
And despite her absence her friends passed along messages of hope and love.
“Tell her that I love her and she’s my hero,” said friend McKayla Pierce.
“If I could say anything to her I would say hold on, she’s fighting hard,” said another friend, Brandi Marsh.
Her courage even prompted the mayor to declare Tuesday Katelyn Norman day.
“We wanted to try to make this day, and this time in her life, special to her because she makes it special for people in Campbell County,” said Mayor William Bailey.
That was more evident than ever as thousands of people lined Highway 63 in honor of Katelyn.
“I think she’s a hometown hero for all of us and a great inspiration to everybody,” said Seirra Ames, who came to hold a candle in Katelyn’s honor.
For more than a mile, candles in hand, the Campbell County community came together to light the night all for a teen that has touched so many.
“It amazes me that an individual has that much impact on people,” Shepard said. “But that’s just Katelyn.”