New Castle News

December 23, 2013

Top 10 Stories, Number 8: Homecoming queen inspired community

Kayleen Cubbal
New Castle News

NEW CASTLE —

Brittany Chieze’s crown rests out of sight, in a ceramic vase that was filled with flowers on Sept. 27.
That was the night the 17-year-old was crowned Homecoming Queen at Shenango High.
“Every once in awhile she’ll say, ‘Let me see my crown,’ ” said Brittany’s mother, Rochelle. “And I take it out and show it to her and she gets that ‘wow’ look on her face once again.”
But then the reality sets back in for Brittany, who has not been able to attend Shenango High for three years, since the debilitating neuromuscular disease spinal muscular atrophy put her in a wheelchair. Members of the school’s student body never forgot about the beautiful, 60-pound brunette with the big smile and effervescent personality, rallying around her during what would have been her senior year of school — first voting her onto Homecoming court, then naming her queen.
Brittany was crowned during an emotional ceremony at the Sept. 27 game against Our Lady of the Sacred Heart.
“The whole thing could not have been more beautiful,” Rochelle said. “She was exhausted when it was over, it took her a good week to recover. But she loved every single minute of it, she felt so special.”
Since her crowning, Brittany had her senior pictures taken. The family debated on whether to show the tracheotomy tube connected to a ventilator that is a part of her daily existence in the photos.
“We could have left the trach tube out of the photos,” Rochelle said, “but Brit insisted, ‘that’s a part of who I am.’ ”
Shortly after her crowning, the mailman brought a package sent from “The Young and the Restless” soap opera, Brittany’s favorite show.
In it were autographed photos with personal notes from Y&R stars, Eric Braeden (Victor), Melody Thomas Scott (Nikki) and Josh Morrow (Nick), who had learned of her love of the show. She received a fourth photo of Jess Walton (Jill) several days later.
“She had the biggest smile on her face I have ever seen when she realized what was in the package,” Rochelle said.
Brittany, who is homeschooled by her mom, will graduate with her class in June.
(Email: kcubbal@ncnewsonline.com).