Yes, there are more important things in this world than the high school prom, but the 2017 Glen Rose High School prom won’t be soon forgotten for two local youngsters.
Amalie Brewer is a 17-year-old GRHS junior whose long struggle with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL) has been chronicled in previous Glen Rose Reporter articles. But recently her journey crossed paths with that of a young boy who is fighting his own excruciating battle for life.
Nathan Beatty is an 8-year-old Glen Rose boy who was diagnosed last year with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), which is the name for a rare and usually fatal brain tumor.
Brewer had read about Nathan and seen posts about his progress on the family’s Facebook page named, “Nathan’s Journey With DIPG.” She told her parents she wanted to give a “promposal” to little Nathan — and ask him to be her “date” for the GRHS prom coming up on Saturday, May 13, at the Somervell County Expo Center.
A PLAN IS HATCHED
Amalie’s mother, Lindsey Brewer, called his parents — Clint and Tara Beatty — and told them about Amalie’s plan.
They did a prom flip, you might say, on Amalie.
“My wife and Lindsey made the plans,” said Clint, who is a Highway Patrol officer based in Somervell County. “They decided she’s the one who deserved the promposal.”
Clint and Tara then mentioned the idea to Nathan — even though his understanding of proms may not go much beyond that it’s a place where people dance.
“He was on board from the get-go,” said Clint, who brought the family — which also inclues 14-year-old son Colin — here about a year ago when he was transferred by the DPS from the El Paso area. “He was very happy. He is excited about it, and definitely happy she said yes.”
On April 26, Nathan showed up with his mom and dad at a beauty shop where Amalie was helping out, holding a sign with the words, “Will you be my princess at the prom?”
As an added incentive, the miniature lady killer brought along some flowers and a tiara as a special touch.
“It was a surprise. My mom knew about it,” Amalie said. “I just thought it was really, really sweet. I was going to ask him to the prom and he surprised me. It’s going to be an honor to take him to the prom.
“He said he was excited. He asked if he could go to the prom with me, and it was super cute. I said, ‘Yes, I will’.”
Lindsey Brewer stated, “This has all been (a) very exciting and sweet experience! We are so looking forward to prom on May 13th! We heard about Nathan's diagnosis last August and have been following his story.”
Amalie knows plenty about being a little kid with a burden like Nathan. She was first diagnosed with cancer at age 6, and went through the rough process of chemotherapy. She had a relapse during her freshman year at GRHS, at age 14.
NOT HER FIRST PROM
One of the friends she made while undergoing treatment in Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth, Rio Cantu of Glen Rose, attended the 2013 prom with Amalie at the hospital. Rio passed away at age 19 in May 2015.
Another friend dealing with cancer who Amalie met during her stay at Cook Children’s was Chloe Blackman. Together, in honor of Rio, they attended the prom held at Cook Children’s for teen pediatric cancer patients. Blackman, who was having treatment for non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, graduated from GRHS that spring and is now in remission.
Nathan’s promposal to Amalie was also in honor of her late friend Rio.
“It’s been our experience that Amalie has a special bond with these kids who are battling cancer,” her mother, Lindsay Brewer, said. “There is an understanding between them. They know what each other is going through. It’s okay to be sick, it’s okay to be sad, and they can just be themselves.”
Lindsey is a stay-at-home mom, while her husband Kelly is a custom cabinet maker and owns a cabinet shop, Brewer Custom Cabinets, in Granbury. They also have two sons — Kason, 19, and Drannon, 20.
Nathan had an extensive “bucket list” of things he wanted to get done after the family realized his situation. One included a trip to Disney World to see the Wizarding World of Harry Potter — one of his favorite characters. His dad said the list “faded away” eventually after Nathan was able to check off about 95 percent of the items.
Amalie took a Make-A-Wish trip to Disney World was when she was 9 — a little older than Nathan when he went last year. He turned 8 last November 27.
‘I KNOW WHAT HE’S GOING THROUGH’
Lindsey noted that in 2014 Amalie “underwent treatment at St. Jude & Cook Children's for 14 months and had to stop 10 months shy due to developing several near fatal secondaries. She is currently in remission.”
Amalie’s mother was found to be the best donor in the family for Amalie’s NK Cell Therapy. It took only two weeks for testing to show that Amalie was in remission. They came home from St. Jude in Memphis and completed the rest of her treatment at Cook Children’s in Fort Worth.
“I know what he’s going through and it’s really scary for him, being so young,” Amalie said of Nathan. “It’s heartbreaking that he has to go through treatment and feel bad. I think it will be nice for him to come out and see the people that support him and are praying for him.”
She even understands what it’s like for Nathan now that the steroids he takes as part of his medical treatment causes his body to swell. She had similar symptoms when she was placed on steroids when she was younger.
ON TRACK AGAIN
At a young age, Amalie began working on becoming good in pole vaulting, which was a sport her dad excelled in when he was in high school in Dumas.
She showed great promise while in remission for the first time, making it to the Junior Olympic Games two years in a row.
The first year she placed eighth in the nation among 13-14-year-old girls at a meet in North Carolina. The next year she was a 14-year-old competing in the 15-16-year-old division at the meet in Iowa and was 11th. Her top height ever in practice has been 11 feet, 3 inches, and her best in a meet was 10-0.
As she returned to pole vaulting during the spring of her freshman year at GRHS, Amalie was unable to advance out of district. Now that she’s strong enough for sustained work at pole vaulting once again, she has her sights set on competing next spring for Glen Rose.
Amalie is a straight-A student who is considering going into premed in college.
And guess what she is thinking she might want to do as an occupation.
“Maybe being a doctor at Cook Children’s,” Amalie said. “I’ve been in the hospital my whole childhood, so I’m real interested in all that, and I know a lot about it.”
Lindsey said that Glen Rose Nursing and Rehab is donating the use of a handicap-accessible van and a driver for Nathan and Amalie to arrive in on prom night.
NATHAN, THE PARTY ANIMAL
Nathan’s family is grateful for the outpouring of prayers, loving gestures and comments they have received over the past year.
“Once again, we appreciate what everybody has done,” Clint Beatty said. “The whole community. It’s an endless gift.”
As for Nathan’s stamina at the prom, his dad said they aren’t going to set a curfew in anticipation of him getting a little too pooped to party.
“We’re going until he says to go home,” Clint Beatty said. “Every day is different.”
There are separate pages on the website GoFundMe.com for anyone wishing to make a donation to assist the Beatty and the Brewer families financially.