A thousand classmates give terminally ill AL girl huge surprise

A thousand classmates give terminally ill AL girl huge surprise
Abby Brown has terminal Mitochondrial disease. For her 17th birthday, her classmates went all out to make her feel special. (Source: WSFA 12 News)
A banner at the end of the walk said "Happy Birthday Abby".
A banner at the end of the walk said "Happy Birthday Abby".

ALEXANDER CITY, AL (WSFA) - An east Alabama mom recently made a special Facebook request for her daughter's birthday, asking friends to send birthday cards. She got about a thousand of them from places as far away as England, Alaska, and Hawaii.

But those greetings couldn't top the surprise at Benjamin Russell High School in Alex City where her daughter attends classes.

When Abby Brown showed up for school on Monday, Feb. 26, she had no idea what her day would be like. But her teacher, Jessica Johnson, did.

"The entire staff, the faculty, emails were sent out," Johnson explained.

With everyone on board, Abby left Johnson's class later that morning to go home but when she left the room, she walked into a throng of students - hundreds of them - all lined up on both sides of the hallway. As she walked, she was greeted with the singing of "Happy Birthday."

Brown turned 17 that day. Her own mom admits it could be her last birthday.

"I was overwhelmed with the people. It was amazing," Brown said of the surprise.

Abby suffers from Mitochondria disease, which means the cells in her body are dying. As a result, she has dementia and it's getting worse.

"It's like a dream," she explains.

As Abby turned the corner to enter another hallway, she found even more students. The entire student body turned out, totaling nearly 1,000 students and staff.

'"It was awesome," Johnson beamed, "totally worth every minute."

Once Abby Brown left the building, she was serenaded with more birthday wishes, a chorus of goodwill lifted her up on her special day.

"Happy birthday, Abby!" said someone in the outside crowd.

"I was surprised to see all the people outside, too!" Abby said.

For two minutes or so, there were no classroom assignments, no tests to worry about, just a few lessons in humanity delivered in the halls of learning.

Abby said it was the "best day of my life." Indeed it was.

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