When This Girl Was Crowned Homecoming Queen, She Had A Surprise For A Student With Down Syndrome

It’s a quintessential part of the high school experience – the day the students choose their Homecoming King and Queen. But when Katie Gassman heard her name called, she likely felt thrilled for another reason. And that’s because she had a surprise up her sleeve for Chelsea Sloan, a fellow nominee who has Down Syndrome.

According to Chelsea’s mom, Angie, her 18-year-old daughter was “ecstatic” to be voted onto Wayne Community Schools’ homecoming court. Angie wrote in a Facebook post, “Ever since she found out, she’s been […] telling everyone, including doctors, therapists, receptionists – seriously, everyone.”

Angie noted that Chelsea’s joy was infectious. “I was so excited, because she doesn’t usually get too worked up about these types of things,” she wrote. But the mother and daughter prepared for Homecoming day with all of the typical bells and whistles.

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“We went dress shopping, did [Chelsea’s] hair and nails, and she even decided wearing a little makeup would be OK. All of these things made this mama so happy, just getting to experience these normal everyday things that most people take for granted,” Angie went on.

And, while all of that was enough to create a special mother-and-daughter memory, Angie said it was just the tip of the iceberg. “Unbeknown to me, the real pride and joy would come later,” she hinted in her Facebook post.

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That’s because the school had yet to crown its queen – students would learn who would wear the crown at a pep rally. On the big day, Chelsea slipped into her blue ruffled gown and stood on the basketball court alongside her fellow nominees.

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The atmosphere in the gym was almost completely silent. Then, an announcer began to reveal the results of the students’ vote. “Our 2016 Homecoming King and Queen are…” he said, before announcing that Gassman, a Wayne County Schools senior, won the latter honor.

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With that, the crowd cheered and clapped as Gassman came forward in her floor-length, sea foam-hued gown. Soon, she was wearing a sparkling crown, too, her prize for becoming Homecoming Queen.

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At that moment, it seemed as though the ceremony was over – but then another voice came over the microphone. “If our Homecoming court would just stand there for a second,” the woman said.

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“Before the coronation ceremony…” the woman went on, before taking a long pause. Then, she said, “Katie handed me an envelope, and it says this.” But before she was able to reveal the contents of the note, her voice cracked, her emotion clear.

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Gassman had written the letter just in case she won, and asked the woman to read it aloud in the event that she did. The note said, “Tonight I would like to share my crown with the girl who always has a smile on her face and has overcome so many hardships.”

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As Gassman’s words were read, she walked from the center of the room toward the person she was describing in her letter – Chelsea. The 18-year-old’s jaw dropped when she realized what was happening.

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With that, Gassman took the crown off of her head and placed it on Chelsea’s. The two shared a huge hug as everyone in the room gave them a standing ovation. Then, she ushered Chelsea toward the center of the basketball court.

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There, the two Homecoming queens smiled and posed for photos alongside the Homecoming King. It was literally a picture-perfect ending to a day the Sloan family couldn’t have foreseen at all, according to Angie.

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“We didn’t expect [Chelsea to be a Homecoming attendant] in the first place,” Angie told the Des Moines Register. “When Katie gave her the crown, Chelsea was just so excited,” the mom added.

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According to Angie, Chelsea even said, “Oh my gosh, mom. I’m queen. I’m queen!” And, for that once-in-a-lifetime experience, the proud mom could only express her gratitude to everyone involved, which she did via Facebook.

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Of course, she paid tribute to the Homecoming Queen first and foremost. “This wonderful, selfless young woman, Katie Gassman, chose to share her crown with Chelsea. There really are no words that can describe how I feel,” Angie wrote.

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Angie went on, “We are so fortunate to live in such a loving community. The students at Wayne Community Schools have proven time again that they have [the sort of] kindness and integrity that is so easily forgotten in this day and age.”

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Angie went on to say, “I am so humbled by the love and compassion that [the students] have always shown Chelsea. Thank you, Katie. Thank you, Carrie Gassman, for raising such a wonderful young woman. [And] thank you, Wayne Community Schools, and teachers, for fostering such a kind, caring environment.”

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Since that day in 2016, Gassman has gone onto Iowa’s Simpson College, where she studies biology and works as a library assistant. As for Chelsea, her mom posted a quote that summed up her daughter on August 8, 2018: “Don’t underestimate me. I know more than I say, I think more than I speak, and notice more than you realize.”

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