(CNN) - A senior with a big smile is wearing an even bigger smile after this weekend’s Homecoming at St. Lucie West Centennial High School in Port St.Lucie, Florida.
Hakam Daley has not had it easy. He has cerebral palsy and has been in and out of foster homes most of his life. But he has many friends at school who nominated him for homecoming king.
“When I heard the message, I had no words to describe,” Daley said. “I was so happy.”
Kayla Donohue, a cheerleader and friend of Daley’s, secretly got the other seniors to nominate him for the court. Donohue said it was important to give Daley this “special experience that he’d remember the rest of his life.”
On Friday night, Daley lined up with other kids on the court, football stars and other popular students to hear who would be chosen king.
As they called his name, Daley did something he had never done before: With the help of caregivers, he walked in public.
When they announced that he was chosen king, Daley’s smile beamed brighter than ever.
Surrounded by teary-eyed students and flashing cameras, the kid with the big smile became the most popular guy in school. (WPBF video)
I won homecoming king, and if there was an opportunity to give away the honor to anyone in his situation I would do it in a heartbeat.
Ok, pass the tissues. I am so tired of seeing hateful articles and blogs. This is such a nice story!!
Bravo! I hope Ellen Degeneres has Hakam Daley on her show. Yes, Hakam will continue to inspire good deeds and will surely Pay it Forward!
I wish more kids reallized how good it feels to do something nice for someone else less fortunate. It has to feel better than being a bully.
What a great story! I don't think this was a pity move on any level. The school simply gave a young man a moment to feel special and appreciated. Nothing is wrong with making someone feel valued. His life may go back to "normal" right after the coronation, but this story will live on and inspire him far into the future. I wish more people knew about the causes and treatments of Cerebral Palsy. My cousin has CP and I found this website very helpful when my Aunt was first searching for the cause of her child's condition. http:// myadvocates.com/cerebral-palsy-overview
I totally agree that there is nothing wrong with making a person feel valued. In fact, I would say that EVERYONE should have moments in their life when they feel valued. I have had many such moments, and treasure them all. And you are right to say that it may influence/inspire him far into the future. My question remains should society view an act of generousity by my friends toward me as MORE (kind, generous, important – you fill in the adjective) that if those SAME friends performed that SAME ACT of generousity for one of their non-disabled friends, and if so, why? If voting for this young man for homecoming king is an act of kindness and generousity, and you really view his disability as not relevant to whether he deserves this honor, then voting for ANYONE is an act of kindness and generousity, and we should praise ALL teens who vote out of true friendship for their friends as being kind and generous to those friends (and maybe we should, but we don't). Yes, EVERYONE needs to feel valued, and this student body chose to show they value this young man by electing him Homecoming King. I am sure that in another school in this vast country of ours, another student body chose to show they valued a student (who is not disabled) by electing him Homecoming King, and that, because of that student's particular background and experiences, this act will have far-reaching and inspiring consequences on his life (although the students who elected him may not know it). In my opinion, the students of both schools should be regarded as equally kind/generous, because they were both doing something to make someone they cared about feel valued. But I doubt (maybe I'm wrong, I hope I am) that if this story were about an "average Joe" who happened to be a great guy and the students elected him because of that, there would not be so many people comenting on how "kind and generous" those students were to make their friend feel valued.
I agree. Kayla rallied the people to get his name on the ballot but the student body still had to vote for him. Great story.
I hope that society treats him like this when enters real world.
What a Blessing! These kids will receive joy because of the joy they have given.
I am a woman in my 40's with cerebral palsy. Stories like this make me cringe inside. If the students elected him Homecoming King because he had a great personality and was truly friends with a lot of people, that is great. More power to them and him. But if they elected him out of "compassion" – let's do something nice for this poor guy because his life must be terrible since he is disabled (which is really not compassion, it is pity), then I am offended. I want to EARN the things I get. I have a Ph.D. I did not get that because my professors wanted to "be nice" to the disabled student, but because I deserved it. I want friends who are my friends because of WHO I am, not because of what I can or can't do. I have had people try to "be my friends" out of "compassion" even though we really had nothing in common. It makes me feel like I wouldn't be good enough otherwise – that the only thing worth befriending for is my CP. My true friends value me for the same reason I value them – we truly LIKE each other. If you want to really respect the disabled, treat them as you would anyone else. Do NOT be more loving or generous to us than you would be to a non-disabled person (Don't be less, either). More helpful, maybe, but not to the extent that it is not a relationship of equals. My true friends see me as an equal, not someone they have to be compassionate toward. Please, please tell me that this young man DESERVED to be in the running because of WHO he was, and would have been at least nominated even if he didn't have CP. Otherwise, this, although meant to be a sweet and loving gesture, was really a condescending one.
It sounds like you may feel like people pity you. I am disabled and people like you make us alll look like fools. these kids did somethingvery good with him. and if you puled yohea out of yur bhind lng enough to think about it kids in the present dy would not do something like this out of ity but only becaue he is a great guy. Go somewhere else and throw yourself a pity pary no one cares. This is about an amzaing young man.
Finally, A story worth reading!
Excuse me miss,
Excuse me..I don't know you, but from you wrote it sounds like you are judgeing people. For someone who may get jodged themself should not be judgeing for the fact that you know how it feels. And I would like you to know I go to school with Hakam. He is the nicest and happiest guy and person I have ever met. When he walks into a classroom he brightens it up and makes everyone smile and laugh. He is sooo sweet and caring. I can't speak for everyone who voted him King but I can speak for most and they didn't voted him King because they felt bad they voted him King, because he deserves it. And you know what I am very happy and proud
he became our King.
This is a response to all the replies. No, I do not feel that I am "overly" pitied. And I don't need to throw myself a "pity party": I have a great life, thank you. But I have been the object of pity. I have had complete strangers walk up to me on the street and tell me how sorry they am for me. I have had people offer me things (like free meals – or directions to charities helping the disabled) that I don't need. Don't get me wrong, I am grateful that this things are out there for those who do need them. But I don't walk up to people on the street and start a conversation by "You haven't had a haircut recently, and your clothes are wrinkled, so let me tell you where the homeless shelter is" so why should people walk up to me and say "I see you are disabled, there's this great organization in town that employs people with disabilities"? Now, if they started the conversation with "Hi, how are you?" and somewhere as the conversation went along, it came up that I was looking for work (I'm not), then giving me that info would be perfectly appropriate. If you haven't had these experiences (or have, and have a different reaction to them), that is great for you. I am thankful for the response(s) saying what a great young man he is. I am glad that he has such a great personality that his friends would do this. That is how it should be. However, being disabled is not enough to merit this award, but the only reason it made the news is that he had CP. And most of the responses seemed to be praising the students for being "kind" and "generous" as if it would be strange to be "kind" and "generous" to someone you truly liked. I am "kind and generous" to my friends; they are "kind and generous" to me. They do nice things for me all the time, some of them VERY nice things – I do nice things for them. I hope no one is particularly "proud of them" for being my friends, just as I am sure no one is "proud of me" for being their friend. We happen to be friends. I am not taking anything away from the students or this young man by wanting the friendships that they form to be true friendships of equals. Nor was I saying that they weren't true friendships, because I don't know these students. I suppose, though, I was asking the question, if he was truly popular, then what is the big deal.? "Students elect wonderful young man Homecoming King because of his great personality and terrific outlook on life." That sounds like something that happens all the time. If that had been the headline, how many of you would have read the story? If the story had been about a great young man who had this amazing personality who was NOT disabled, how many of you would have praised the students for electing him, saying that they were "kind and generous"? Friends elected this person Homecoming King. If it was truly an act of friendship, then he should be proud – proud that his personality has gained him so many friends. But if it was a true act of friendship, then it was no more "kind" than any other group of friends electing their friends. If so, I am not "proud" of those students for being his friend, although I am happy for and proud of this young man because he has so many friends.
You sound like a fine young person. Wonderful answer!
StarDocM - I agree with you 100%. I too am disabled. While I don't have CP, I have a rare neuromuscular disorder that causes me to have great difficulty walking, and so it's quite obvious immediately that there is something "wrong." Yet like you, I am highly educated, I have a great job, I'm a homeowner, I have many close friends and family. Of course there are many people who need services, and it's great that these programs exist for them. But despite my many issues, I am proud to say I am 100% independent and have earned every single thing I currently have. If I thought even for an instant that someone gave me something because it was "important to give me an experience I'd remember," I would turn it down in a heartbeat.
That said, I do believe these kids feel they were doing a good thing for their classmate, and really, they are. Their intentions were good, and IMO that's the important thing. We often complain about teenagers today being shallow or self-centered, but here is proof that there were kids thinking about making someone else happy. So that in itself is important to keep in mind.
Hey its JayZ!
I apply this to the commercial where the down syndrome girl was elected homecoming queen. I see 'great' commericals but they're only aired at 715 am. If these type of commercials were aired during Idol, DWTS or some of those stupid reality shows people can't seem to stop watching..imagine what other good people could find in their hearts.
There really needs to be more stories like this.
faith in humanity = restored
Go "ajbuffl" ! Totally agree.
More often than not we pretend that we are doing something nice for someone with a disability when, in fact, we are doing something to make ourselves feel better instead.
I disagree. This would NEVER have happened when I was in high school 30 years ago. I think this younger generation respects and appreciates diversity and truly understands the lessons of inclusion. It made this young man really happy and proud, so it's not relevant how anyone else felt. His friend must have known this would be a big deal for him. Also, the fact that this boy's best friend is a star cheerleader indicates a level of inclusion that never would have been seen in past generations. Finally, this has to be examined from the perspective of high school students – this is the biggest event of their lives (some of them). To adults it seems silly, but in their world this was the biggest and best piece of inclusion they could possibly demonstrate – and they sacrificed to do it (in the limited world of the teenager.) If helping and including other human beings by setting aside your own best interests makes you feel good – because you know it is the right thing to do even if doesn't bring any direct benefit to yourself – then you are human and you are a great fellow citizen. Now I hope that one of those caring adults adopts him so he is no longer bouncing around in a foster care system!
I rest my case.......thank you for your intelligent comment
I could not agree more. Well said.
Well SAID.... Not may people care enough anymore about the joy small things can do for someone.
Why do you have to be such a jerk and turn something good to bad? Be happy that you read a story about something good over what normally plasters our screen
This is a win win, sometimes doing something nice for some one does make us feel better, that is not a bad thing. Everybody one on this one. This was one person who convinced the seniors to nominate him for the home coming court, but they did one better voted him as king, no one asked them or convinced them to do that. Some young adults show more maturity than they are given credit for.
The impulsive generosity of young people is always moving. May this trait of these young friends, which reminds we older people what's really important in life, become their virtue. Pax, jb.
Don't judge others by your own imposed rules.
Some people have a kind heart, perhaps go to church, have parents that taught us the value of helping others, or don't care what others think....
Oh wait.... it's easier to have negative thoughts of others..... I forgot.
Hey, just because that's how you would choose to conduct yourself is no reason for you to assume that ALL of us would do the same. There are GOOD people out there and the students in this school should be proud of themselves for coming together to give this young man a memory he can cherish for the rest of his life. Shame on you!
This is a wonderful story. With all the bullying going on in this world, it's nice to see that there are kids out there who do care.
There's always one who has to put a negative spin on something.
This is so wonderful! Big fat tears rolled down my cheeks as I was watching the video. Kayla and the schoolmates have done such an awesome thing for Hakam. I'm sure it would be one of the best nights that he'd remember for life =)
And it was so important to see that he had long term and devoted friendships with these students – not just a group of people throwing something together. They clearly were part of each others lives and this was a meaningful gift from one to the other. Good for the millennials!
It choked me up too! I'm so happy to see our younger generation being good to each other. It gives me hope for our future.
Hey CNN.com....it's palsy, not 'policy'. Spell check...your link says cerebral policy.
This story just reinforces what I have always believed, there are more young people doing good than bad!!!!!!!!!!! It's the bad stories that makes the news each and every day!!!!!!!!!!!!
What a wonderful story. Living proof not all teens are selfish and self centered.
What a wonderful and inspiring story! I'm a 42yr old male and this brought me to tears! I pray that everyone involded in the voting process that made his home coming king be Truly Blessed! and my hat goes off to KAYLA FOR BEING SUCH A WONDERFUL ROLE MODEL FOR OTHER YOUNG GIRLS AND LADIES! I'M IN GA AND WE NEED MORE YOUNG PEOPLE LIKE YOU!! MAY! GOD BLESS YOU ALL!!
HALLELUJIA!!!! He has been healed!
as grandparents of KAYLA words fail to describe the pride we have in our daughters family including her husband and kayla's little brother kyle. we can rest
knowing that they will go far in todays world. GOD BLESS YOU, LOVE PAPA & NANA
You have a wonderful family and have obviously taught your children well. It's obvious the apple hasn't fallen far from the tree - in a good way. Thank you!
You should be proud of having such a wonderful and caring grand-daughter!
Im a centennial sophmore & the day he got announced for homecoming king,he had the biggest smile on his face.I always see him around school and i just think that what happened to him is just a great memory he will always remember....its so hard to read stories like these now a days but im very glad that my school peers made the great decision in nominating him....much love to you Hakam Daley
What a wonderful memory created for all of those involved. Well done!
long live King Hakam! What a great group of kids!!
Stories like this restore my failing faith in humanity.It is wonderful to see kids put aside "popular" and do something so kind. Thank you for doing this. I hope many more people can learn from your example.
This is my point. Why do we (as a society) assume that he CAN'T be "popular" – that "popular" was something set aside in his case? Why can't he have won because people really liked him? (And the responses from students in his school seem to indicate he was popular, so there was no need to set that aside.)
Oh please...go away. Why can't you just accept, at face value, that people did a nice thing without looking for loopholes?
He did win because he is liked. Many of the students DO know who he is. They may have nominated him, but the school student body had to vote for him. The student body is a wonderful group of young adults!!!
To Hakam Daley I am very much sharing in the light of your joy; it is stories like these which too often are overlooked that make our lives worth living and result in the reaffirmation of my faith in the human race. Not much more more to say other than few things can do more to elevate this wonderful side of the human condition.
Big props to not only Kayla and the other students but to Hakam's foster caretakers as well. To give love to other people instead of yourself is the at pinnacle of humankind's accomplishments. Congratulations Hakam.
Kayla, you are a beautiful person and you did a beautifu thing, This is something Hakam wiill remebmer and treasure for the rest of his life.
Brought tears to my eyes!!! Great story!!!
Restores hope for mankind huh? Hope there's more students and young people like that out there. If so, things may be looking up for us all!
The parents of the kids at this school should be very proud of themselves. They have raised an awesome group of caring and empathetic kids that will certainly carry this trait with them for life.
What a testament to the kids of this school. To put aside there social enclaves and raise up someone who would have never been given a chance to achieve this.
It is stories like this that most people want to see more of. I am proud of our country again today, even if but for only a moment.
The tears of joy I have are steadily flowing! What a great story!
This is what we need more of! What a wonderful story! There are those of us that like to hear about the positive, and not live for the negative. Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful!
I have heard this happening at several schools lately. Awesome!! I too am very proud of these kids and their parents. The promotion of good values goes a long ways in creating a positive and kind environment.
Such heartwarming story that brings tears! It's awesome to know that there is still good students that rally around those who need it.
It's such a nice change to see some of today's generation isn't full of bullies. Too bad many adults can't learn from this because they're set in their ways.
Go Hakam you are amazing and so is Kayla.
CONGRATS to Hakam! There needs to be more people like Kayla in this world. Her parents must be proud to know they raised a truly remarkable daughter.
A guy who had leukemia most of his junior and senior year was up for homecoming at my school. He didn't win.
We need more stories like this. It's people like them that make the world a better place.
I hear so much about how THIS generation is so horrible. It is stories like this that remind us that perhaps this generation is better in some very important ways than ours or our grandparents'.
I keep finding that this newest generation seems far more compassionate than mine or any others in the past and can actually recognize the value of people that may seem different on the outside.
p.s. 22 positive comments in a row may be a CNN blog record.
This is cool as hell , he goes to my school . He is our number 1 fan . Go eagles !!!
you and your school should be so proud...great jobr
This story made me cry! Congratulations to Hakeem, and much respect to Kayla for being such an amazing friend to Hakeem.
Inspite of the tremendous odds stacked against him, Hakeem thanks God and has confidence that God is with him.
How many of us do this ?
Most people dont realize that if even were to try to count the blessings that God has given most of us, we will never be able to do so.
Forget the ipads, the ipods and all other toys that we see and yearn for.
Each one of us possess things whose values are incalculably high.
Thank you God
or maybe a bunch of fallible humans made a conscious decision to inject a bit of love, compassion, and kindness and provide this person a chance that not many people in their positions get.
Can we, one time, leave god out of it and give credit to the student who made this possible?
Oh just stop it already. Stop getting offended or irritated just because someone thanks the God whom they believe in. Nobody is forcing you to do the same. You give atheists a bad name.
Wow! Kids with a clue. That is SO cool! It seems this young man has some really great friends. I would have been a puddle had I been there, seen the coronation AND seen him walk for the first time in public. How special ! Hats off to Kayla and the other seniors. THAT type of youth is what this world needs!!
God bless you all for such a wonderful gesture, and showing the world how to put others first. You made that young man so happy. You will go far in life. Awesome!!
What a wonderful story !! - you will have to excuse me have something in both my eyes now :)
What a wonderful gesture from all of those special young people. I have a grandson who has a disability, and I know first hand the importance of compassion and kindness. May God bless all who helped Hakam shine–it will be a memory that he will never forget. And I suspect that all who had a hand in this moment will also never forget.
I teared up watching this. Hats off to the kids you made this such a speacial day for someone else.
God bless these kids for being among the first generation to ditch all of the bad high school mores and show their humanity and compassion for all of their peers. There's hope for humanity with these kids!
Well said! great to see teenagers who actually think of the happiness of others.
This is such an inspiring story! it is so wonderful for what Kayla and all those students involved in make that day a very special day for Hakam. God Bless them all!!!
It made my day to see such a wonderful story. Everyone involved should be so proud, What great kids!
What a wonderful story!! Thanks so much for reporting on a wonderful young man and a group of great kids! We need more stories like this!
That is just awesome.
A very beautiful story. God Bless Hakam and Kayla and all the young men and women involved.
My hats off to Kayla. What an awesome person with such a kinder spirit! Be blessed in everything life has to offer you. Congrats Hakam, God is yet still awsesome in your life!!!
What a great story! This shows how young people work together to make special moments happen for others and not just about themselves. Way to go! The parents of Kayla and her classmates should be very proud.
To Kayla who suggested this, you have a heart of gold. This small action you took has probably been Hakam's most precious memory. The look on his face is priceless. Bless you, Hakam, and all the other classmates that took part in nominating him.
It's nice to read stories like this. They are so few and far between these days.
Cool, very cool.
Congratulations to Hakam. And to Kayla and all her classmates for being such generous, loving people. You make us proud!
This is such a truly amazing young man! I have the pleasure of having Kayla in my life and she is one of the sweetest people you would ever meet!
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