This Terminally Ill Teen Got Her Dream Formal Thanks To Her Loved Ones And This Professional Athlete

"She brought a smile to my face last night, she was so strong."

With a little help from her friends, family, school community, and a professional athlete, this 15-year-old girl got to attend the formal of her dreams. 

In October 2015, Hannah Rye, a student at Kurri Kurri High School in the Hunter region of New South Wales, Australia, was diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma. The disease is a type of rare cancer found in the bones or soft tissue around the bones. Earlier this year, Rye was told the cancer was terminal. 


Upon hearing the news, her loved ones and school community decided they'd do everything they could to give her the best school formal possible. Knowing that Rye admires Japanese culture, her classmates used cherry blossoms as the theme of the event. The flowers decorated both the cake and all of the centerpieces. To make things even better, one of her classmates created 1,000 paper cranes for the event. 

"I think this really shows us that teenagers continue to astound us in what they can do. They've pulled together and got this whole thing off the ground and organized, and it is really [a] testament to the beautiful students we have here that they all pulled together and got it happening for her," Kurri Kurri High School principal, Tracey Breese, told BuzzFeed. "She is very, very ill. She is in palliative care at the moment and her medical team did a really great job at getting her to the point where she was even able to come out."

To fund the event, Rye's classmates and teachers held an auction, a doughnut drive, and fundraised through the Fight for Connar Foundation. They also received donations from some of the local businesses in their community.

Yesterday, the night of the formal finally arrived. Rye walked in with a professional rugby league player Trent Hodkinson as her date. Hodkinson, a star on the Newcastle Knights team, first met Rye last year through Hodkinson's charity work at the John Hunter Children's Hospital. As part of his "Tren7's Kick for Kids" initiative, Hodkinson dedicates his conversions to a child in the hospital and writes down their name on his kicking tee. He dedicated his first home game of the 2016 season to Rye, who is a big fan of his. 

After following up with her this year and finding out about her terminal diagnosis, Hodkinson decided to escort her to the formal. 

"It was Trent's idea to come to the formal, it was something he really wanted to do. "She's been so very, very sick for the last week or two, and we didn't think she was going to make the formal. The doctors didn't think she was going to make it, but she wasn't going to miss the excitement and joy of tonight," Rye's mom, Rachel, told the Newcastle Knights last night. "Tonight has been unbelievable and we've just seen so much love for Hannah. She'll never get another moment like this, and it's pretty special." 

While many of those sharing Rye's story have focused on Hodkinson's gesture to accompany Rye to the formal, the athlete wants people to know that that's not what's important here. And he's right. Sure, it's awesome any time a celebrity goes out of their way to make a difference in a fan's day. But what's even more special is the community coming together for her and Rye's own strength through this hardship. 

"As soon as we got there all [Hannah's] friends were cheering for her, I think they were just really happy she was able to go," Hodkinson said during a press conference. "I didn't expect it to blow up the way it has. I don't do it for the recognition, I do it because I genuinely care and enjoy doing it. It's such a good thing for Hannah and her family and hopefully, it can bring awareness to the illness she's going through, the Ewing sarcoma. She brought a smile to my face last night, she was so strong."

(H/T: Buzzfeed


Subscribe to our newsletter and get the latest news and exclusive updates.