Friday, 21 February 2014

Student with Brain Tumor can Get Graduation

High School Student With Brain Tumor Gets Seattle Seahawks Surprise.A Washington State high school student battling an aggressive brain tumor got the surprise of his life when a Seattle Seahawks player fresh off a Super Bowl victory made a special visit to his high school.
Doug Baldwin, a Seahawks wide receiver, snuck in a side entrance at
Decatur High School in Federal Way, Wash., on Thursday night and spoke to an overflow crowd at the school's gymnasium about Dom Cooks, an 18-year-old senior at the school who was a standout football player before being diagnosed with a brain tumor two years ago that has left him confined mostly to a wheelchair.
"He spoke for about how he had met Dom when a local TV station had taken Dom to a regular season Seahawks game and how Dom had inspired him and so he rearranged his schedule so he could be there," said Decatur High School principal David Brower. "It was amazing."
It was Brower's idea to hold the early graduation ceremony for Cooks and his twin sister, Diamond.
"Dom always tells me that tomorrow is not a promise and so thinking of that reminder, we knew we had today and that today we could do a graduation," Brower said.
Brower and school officials put together the nearly 90-minute graduation ceremony in a week's time, and included Diamond at the request of her brother, whose tumor has recently grown and spread throughout his brain.
"They've been together in life and he didn't want to be alone at graduation, Brower said. "He wanted her to be with him."

The graduation ceremony, attended by at least 70 members of the Cooks' family, according to Brower, featured teachers selected by the siblings to speak, as well as the school's senior class president, who always speaks at graduation.
The ceremony also included a lot of humor, which Brower says is a trademark of Cooks, who could not be reached today by
"He was dancing and when a teacher started to cry, he said, 'Ah, don't you do that,' and started to mimic her crying," Brower said. "Dom took the microphone after accepting his diploma and was like a rock star."
"He actually said, 'I feel like a rap star with the microphone in my hand,'" Brower said.
When Cooks went to accept his diploma from the superintendent, he got out of his wheelchair but had some difficulty making it to the stage, according to Brower.
It was Baldwin, he says, who stepped up to help Cooks make his way up to the stage.
"And then he just quietly backed away as Dom took center stage," Brower said.
"This is a memory that Dom and Diamond and their family will have forever," he added. "They will know that on Feb. 20, the community came together and gave them all the love and support they deserve."

FEDERAL WAY, Wash. -- Deep in the heart of basketball season, it was a full court press in a high school gym in Federal Way Thursday night. There were no players here, however; only pomp and circumstance.

"It's sort of uncharted territory," said Decatur High School principal David Brower. "I've never done this for a student, but I can think of no better students than them to do this for."

Students lined the bleachers with tissues. Some passed out programs. The band set up in one corner; the jazz choir in another.

Soon, a crowd swelled on the floor - a large cluster of balloons above it. It was a rock star welcome; the sort of attention that follows Dom Cooks around school, friends say.

"It's what he's wanted for four years. He loves the school more than anybody. He really does," said classmate Mikaela Benavente.

Cooks, 18, was a standout athlete on the school's football team until an aggressive brain tumor sidelined him from the sport last year. Cooks now spends part of his time in a wheelchair, instead of scoring touchdowns.

"He doesn't want you to dwell on it." added Benavente. "He's more embraced what's left of life."

Doctors have given Cooks a few months to live. Staff members weren't sure that might mean for the school's graduation, which typically happens in June. Within the span of a week, they were able to plan a last-minute special graduation ceremony for Dom and his twin sister - complete with caps and gowns, speakers, and music.

"This is crazy. This is crazy!" Dom said, as he spoke to friends, posed for pictures, and shook hands with classmates Thursday.

"It's not going to be sad. It's going to be awesome, I think," said Toshanna Salman, who was at the graduation with her daughter, one of Dom's clasmates. She called Cooks an inspiration.

"He might not know (my daughter) that well, but he's doing something good in her life without her knowing," Salman added.

As the ceremony started, the school band played traditional fanfare. Dom was wheeled down the middle of the gymansium, as classmates applauded.

Over 90 minutes, teachers spoke volumes about the spirit of Dom and his sister, Diamond.

"It's just honoring two amazing young people who've made a world of difference," said teacher Laurie Beaver. "Do you want me to start crying now?"

There were more cheers than tears, however - especially when the principal announced a surprise guest: Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin, who said he'd met Dom earlier in the season and was honored to be at the special ceremony.

Dom smiled, and then Baldwin helped him out of his wheelchair to accept his diploma. Dom moved his tassel from one side to the other, as his classmates rose in a standing ovation; a shining moment for a young man who might not live to see his own pro football career, but whose positive attitude is victory enough in the eyes of his fellow classmates.

"It just touched me, especially knowing his life," said classmate Makayla Colvin.

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