Becoming Homecoming Queen is a dream that many young girls have on entering their high school years. For 18-year-old MichaelAnn Byrne of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, her greatest wish was to have friends, but this past Friday proved that she not only had friends, but the love and support of her local high school as she was crowned their 2015 Homecoming Queen.
MichaelAnn Byrne has always had a difficult time making friends as a result of her rare brain disorder, Beta-propeller Protein-Associated Neurodegeneration (BPAN). According to the NBIA Disorders Association, BPAN is a disorder caused by mutations in the gene WDR45, which is found on the X chromosome. In most cases, those diagnosed with BPAN are the only individuals in their family to be diagnosed with the disorder, and in most cases those individuals are females.
MichaelAnn’s mother, Sherry Byrne, went on to explain to ABC 27 that BPAN is a disorder that not only creates quite a few problems for young MichaelAnn now, but will most likely get steadily worse as she gets older.
“It’s excessive iron on the brain and there’s around 50 people worldwide who have it. It’ll progress where she gets Parkinson’s characteristics and Alzheimer’s characteristics.”
Reports state that because of MichaelAnn’s rare brain disorder, she was unable to make many friends, so when she was selected by the Make-A-Wish Foundation in August, the young girl reportedly wished for 100 new friends.
With the help of Brad Paisley, MichaelAnn’s wish was conveyed to her entire senior class. In a video, Paisley is said to have discussed MichaelAnn’s difficulty with making friends, and he simply encouraged students to begin introducing themselves to her. The country singer wasn’t the only one trying to encourage students to open up to MichaelAnn. ABC News went on to state that one of her teachers encouraged not only her peers, but also MichaelAnn to open up more in classes by including her in discussions and asking her questions which she would answer through the help of an aid.
“I noticed that MichaelAnn changed because of these friendships; she was much happier,” said Sherry. “She got excited if you were talking about her friends.”
As the year progressed, MichaelAnn began making more friends, and by the time Homecoming season rolled around for Cumberland Valley High School, she was not only nominated for the Homecoming court, but for Homecoming Queen. According to People magazine, on Friday, October 16, the votes were tallied up and during the football game that night, MichaelAnn was crowned Cumberland Valley’s Homecoming Queen.
— Cosmopolitan (@Cosmopolitan) October 19, 2015
“We were all standing on the field. It was the moment we were all waiting for,” homecoming court nominee, Melanie McCormick, told PennLive. “I was so happy that she got homecoming queen. One of the other girls on the court was crying, she was so happy for MichaelAnn.”
The night was such a special one for MichaelAnn that she had a rather hard time falling asleep according to her mother Sherry, who took to Facebook to share with friends and family just how special being crowned Homecoming Queen was to their daughter.
“It’s 1 in the morning and MichaelAnn is still up giggling. At one point, I thought she was asleep, but when I checked on her she was just lying there smiling. I am surprised at how much making Homecoming Queen has meant to her.”
As if being crowned Homecoming Queen wasn’t exciting enough, PennLive went on to add that MichaelAnn was beyond excited to have been invited to another girl’s house to spend some time getting ready for the Cumberland Valley Homecoming dance on Saturday, October 17.
Because of her rare condition, which was reportedly only diagnosed three years ago, it can be very difficult to socialize and make friends, but through this Homecoming experience, MichaelAnn seems to have made a whole slew of new friends, and her family couldn’t be any happier for her.
[Image via MichaelAnn Byrne’s Facebook Page]