Just two days before a Tennessee teenager passed away after a long-term battle with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, he fulfilled his dream of graduating high school like the rest of his peers.
Dakota Johnson was admitted to hospital early last month for heart failure. His condition made it impossible for him to walk across the stage at his graduation, which was a major goal for him this year.
Intent on making sure that Dakota would fulfill his dream of graduating, Dakota’s home-school teacher, Allison Russell, brought graduation to his hospital room at Johnson City Medical Center. Sadly, Dakota passed away just two days later at 19 years old.
“What mattered most to me is that I wanted Dakota to experience that and his grandmother [who raised him] to experience that…His grandmother told me that it was probably the happiest day of his life to get that diploma, so I am happy we were able to do that for him.” Allison said
Since seventh grade, Dakota had been home-schooled through the Johnson City School District. As he finally got into his final year, he had told Allison that his goals were to attend prom and graduate from Science Hill High School.
Unfortunately, the teen was admitted to hospital and his illness prevented him from living his dream of walking across the stage on graduation. Knowing how important graduating was to him, Allison organized for the graduation ceremony to come to his hospital room April 24.
Dakota’s hospital room was filled with family, friends, medical staff, Science Hill High School’s principal, and school superintendent, Dr. Steve Barnett, who personally presented Dakota with his diploma. Dakota seemed very happy as he sported his graduation cap and gown and took pictures with his loved ones.
Talking to WJHL after the graduation, Dakota’s aunt, Susan Breeden revealed how much the ceremony meant to their family. “Thank you for honoring him, the nurses at the hospital, and the school system. We are forever grateful for their kindness.” She said.
After his death, a heartbroken reminisced of her student’s amazing personality. “He was a very funny young man, had a wonderful sense of humor… was very caring, very loving, he loved the people around him. I’m really proud of him and what he’s accomplished, and I’ll miss him for a lifetime.” She said.
Find out more about Dakota’s story in the video below.