Special needs teen voted homecoming queen with little help from friend

Gina Gaston Image
Monday, October 12, 2015
Special needs teen voted homecoming queen
Many girls grow up with a fantasy of being a queen. But tonight for one special girl, that dream became reality and it's all because of a teenager who is Houston Strong.

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- For a high school senior who favors a Cinderella shade of blue, having a gown like this, and the elegant and regal accessories to go with it, are the stuff of which dreams are made.

Mary Banks was born with Downs Syndrome but it hasn't kept her from a very busy social calendar, says dad James Banks.

"She works with a special athletic group at school. She's been in Special Olympics, she runs track and field, she plays basketball, and she's qualified for a state swimming competition," he said.

At Summer Creek High School, Mary says she's just following her mom's advice.

"First, have courage, then second is happiness, and third, be kind," Banks said.

That kind spirit is shared by Leanna Mouton, who three years ago started a club at Summer Creek high School called, "Best Buddies." It partners special needs students with others, so kids like Mary don't miss out on a full high school experience.

Mouton says many students wanted to buddy with Banks, who has as contagious spirit.

"She's a model of our motto: attitude is everything," says Mouton. "No matter what she's doing, she always has the best attitude."

Leanna was homecoming queen last year, but this year she backed an unlikely successor-not the most popular girl, but the one who exemplifies the best of her class, Banks.

"Whether she's on the court, or in the classroom, she's always brings her A game, "says Mouton. "She's always a leader. I mean she's a princess, she's a queen, she's everything."

And Friday night it became official. Mouton passed the tiara to Banks, who became homecoming queen.

And so, the girl, who like Cinderella might not have ever been invited to the ball, is now the fairest of them all. And both young ladies are Houston Strong.