When junior Sophia Hurtado couldn’t get to Homecoming, Homecoming came to her. Sophia has attended American Heritage for thirteen years and has always participated in Homecoming activities. This year, she is not strong enough to attend. She has Cushing Syndrome and cancer that has rendered her home bound.
Athletics Director Karen Stearns proposed the idea of throwing a Homecoming celebration at Sophia’s house, and students and administration did not hesitate to get on board.
“I’m so happy and so proud of our students, our athletes and cheerleaders. They wanted to be a big part of this morning for Sophia. We love her, and we all want her to know that we support her in this fight,” Mrs. Stearns said.
The morning started with students and faculty boarding four buses by the 2000 building. Several police officers escorted the entourage and stopped traffic, provided a smooth route to the Hurtado home where they turned her yard into a football field for her own personal football celebration.
The Homecoming experience was brought to Sophia by the varsity cheer team, band players and football team Oct. 15. It was deeply personal for the cheer squad because Sophia has been a member for several years.
“I felt honored to be there for my friend because I’ve known her since preschool. I was so happy to see her today,” cheerleader, junior Tyra Wilkerson said. Upon visiting her, the team made her their honorary cheer captain.
“[Sophia has always worked] harder than most, and she always does it with a smile on her face,” Ms. Calesta Soto, the cheer coach said.
Those present also elected Sophia to the Homecoming Court. Football players lined up to give her roses while cheerleaders placed a tiara on her head and a homecoming court sash around her waist. Then, band members recreated their halftime show.
“She’s such a kind, positive person and she’s kept a smile on her face through this whole process,” Ms. Elise Blum, the upper school principal said.
Sophia later showed her appreciation to everyone. “I like that they brought it to me in a way so I can feel welcome so I want to thank all my coaches and friends who could be here,” she said.