Bristow Teen Makes Difference In Her Community, Simply By Being Herself
BRISTOW, Oklahoma - 19-Year-Old MaKayla Wilson has Down syndrome, but she's not letting that stop her from living her dreams. She's a cheerleader, an office aide, and now Bristow High School's Homecoming Queen.
"To be able to be there with her in that moment; it's a moment that I wish I could relive every day," said Tommy Evans, Bristow Senior.
But on MaKayla's coronation night, one special person was missing from the crowd.
"I felt my mom would be so proud of me," MaKayla said.
When MaKayla was in kindergarten, her mom, Jean Ann, passed away from a brain tumor. Jean Ann was a dance teacher who, like her daughter, was loved by everyone she met.
"She knew everybody, and everybody liked her, and it was such a loss for the whole town when she passed away," said Myra Fadely, MaKayla's grandmother.
Jean Ann's death was very difficult for her family, but MaKayla's dad, Mike, said the community rallied around them.
"There's things you don't like about a small town until a tragedy hits, then it's a blessing," Mike Wilson said.
"It takes a village to raise a kid, and we're all invested in her," said Tara Mattox, Bristow High School Cheer Coach. "We love her."
MaKayla's dad is now remarried to Janet, who was MaKayla's third-grade teacher.
"She's an amazing mom. I love her so very much," MaKayla said.
"She loves to shop and go out to eat and that makes my day because I've never got to do that," said Janet.
Jayden Greenwood grew up with MaKayla. They went to Jean Ann's dance studio together, and now they're on the same cheer squad.
"She makes a joke out of everything pretty much. She makes everyone laugh," Jayden said.
And while the people of Bristow have done so much for MaKayla, friends said her kind spirit does even more for the community.
"Everybody knows her and just feels so especially connected to her that she's the centerpiece of Bristow," said Patrick Lupp, a Bristow Senior.
"She makes you feel good about your life and really opens your eyes to be thankful for everything you have," Jayden said.
She even inspires younger students along the way.
"I want to be like her, just in the way that she doesn't care what anyone thinks of her and just loves everyone," said Aaliyah Givings, Bristow Sophomore.
Because even though MaKayla's graduating this year, a piece of her will always live on in these hallways and in this town.
"She can change someone's life just by looking at them," Tommy said.
"If every person, not only kids, could view the world through her eyes, it would be a wonderful place," said Mike.