MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - When Jesse Wood walked across the stage last week to receive his diploma from Park Crossing High School, his parents and teachers said he stole the show.
"Everyone was clapping, cheering and screaming," said Hope Swinson, Jesse's mother. "To see that love and joy for your child is heartwarming."
Jesse, who has Down Syndrome, said walking across the stage to his peers' applause made him happy. He actually turned back around and went the other way after he received his diploma instead of walking across the other side of the stage.
"It was so Jesse," said Swinson. "He did what he wanted to do."
Swinson and Jesse's father, Noel Wood, said they are extremely proud of their son for graduating.
"It's a day I never thought would come," said Wood. "Not because he couldn't do it, but because he's my baby. He's a fighter. Nothing has ever held Jesse back."
Jesse, who was prom king and arguably one of the most popular guys at school, is also known for how he enters a room, his hugs, concern for others and love for Alabama football.
"Every parent wants their child to be great, sweet and accept everybody regardless of who they are, what they look like or where they come from," Wood said.
While they are overwhelmed by how his classmates accepted him, Jesse's parents said they are most proud of his heart or others. Wood said the world would be different if more people were like his son.
Jesse will return to Park Crossing in the fall to take courses in job skills. He said he wants to be a doctor, but he also loves to cook and wash dishes. With his skills and heart for people, no one who knows him has any doubt he will succeed at whatever he puts is mind to.