The Short of It
A South Dakota teen asks his terminally ill little sister to his high school dance.
With A.J. Spader's winter formal coming up, the 15-year-old knew exactly who he wanted to ask to be his date: his younger sister Rebekah, who suffers from hereditary sensory autonomic neuropathy (HSAN), a nervous system condition. The 10-year-old recently found out she is in bone marrow failure due to a second condition called myelodysplastic syndrome, and despite chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant, she is not expected to get better.
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The teen presented Rebekah with a poster asking her to accompany him to the Valentine's dance. It said, "I would be broken if you weren't my sister because you taught me how to be brave and I'd be blessed if you went to formal with me."
"She's not going to get to go to the prom...because she's probably not going to make it to high school, so he just wanted to give her that memory," the children's dad, Tony, explained to local news station KSFY. He also said it was fun to see his daughter get a break from feeling ill.
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Rebekah was treated to a hair and makeup session, and A.J. even bought her a corsage. Then she enjoyed a fancy dinner and photos. Sadly, she felt too ill to attend the dance, but the siblings still enjoyed making a memory together.
"Her laugh is pretty great. It's really fun to just be around her and just make memories," A.J. told KSFY. "I want to spend as much time with her as possible while she's still doing good."
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Having made the decision to stop Rebekah's treatments, the Spader family is instead focusing on creating many special memories for her, which included a benefit concert for the Make-A-Wish Foundation that incredibly raised $20,000 last summer.
Here's hoping this adorable little girl gets to check many other items off her bucket list with the support of her amazing big brother and family.