JELLICO, Tenn — Ewan Deane is around two years from graduating but his father, Leon Deane, is in hospice and may not get to see the real thing. That's why Jellico High School and the communities around it stepped in to hold an honorary graduation for Ewan.
Leon says he had a lot of thoughts running through his mind.
"Proud," said Leon. "Overjoyed. Happy. Just glad to see it, glad that they put it together."
The ceremony was planned fairly quickly.
"They must care a lot about me to do, you know, something like that, you know, to plan to do that on short notice," said Leon.
Ewan walked to Pomp and Circumstance down the aisle of the auditorium while the principal of the school read statements from teachers and coaches about the character of Ewan and how great a student, and person, he is.
"I was really nervous. I saw my dad and I made better," said Ewan. "So it was a beautiful opportunity for my dad to see me graduate."
Ewan plays football and his team also showed their support for him and his family. Their football helmets have a sticker with a football and the word "Deane" on it, with a purple ribbon.
“We just really couldn't believe it," said Andy Campbell, a teammate. "And we were all just calling, checking on him trying to lift him up, like and make him have a better today, a better day, every day and just help him where it can be better.”
Campbell says Ewan is a great guy all around.
“He's a really great, really great friend, really great football player," said Campbell. "He's a really good teammate. He's always there when you need him. And he can help you out with about anything that you need him to do.”
Chad Seibers, a welding teacher and family friend, shared kind words for the family.
"The family is in the prayers of all people," said Seibers. "This community is praying and has been praying for him, praying for his family. And the prayers will not end anytime soon. The prayers will continue, that God just gives them strength and support in this time that they're going through right now. And I certainly want them to know that. All they have to do is call out on the community. If they need anything from anyone, people will come running to help them without a doubt."
He says he grew up with Leon and they've always had a great relationship.
"A lot of people do not even understand the education that he does have — very intelligent man," said Seibers. "But he's been like that. I've just been very happy. Always wanting to make each and everyone laugh at something."