Special graduation ceremony for terminally ill student

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by ERIC WILKINSON / KING 5 News

KREM.com

Posted on February 19, 2014 at 9:12 PM

FEDERAL WAY, Wash. -- Senior year in high school is a time of making memories and friends that will last a lifetime. No one at Federal Way's Decatur High School understands that better than Dom Cooks. The 18 year old is all about friendship. His closest friends are part of what he calls the "L-O-E."

"It stands for Loyalty Over Everything," he said.

Loyalty means everything to Dom because he doesn't have time for fake friendships. In fact, he may not have much time at all. Diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor two years ago, doctors say he now has months, maybe just weeks to live. It's something he simply sees as part of life.

"Stuff is crazy," he said from his wheelchair Wednesday. "Nothing is promised."

Despite his dire situation, Dom has been a powerfully positive presence in school. Instead of sitting in sadness, all anybody does when they're around him is laugh. He passes through the halls exchanging hugs and high fives.

"I'm trying to take it like he does," said friend Marissa Johnson. "That's part of what's so cool about him. He knows how to live life day by day."

With those days numbered, the students at Decatur decided to show their faithful friend how much he means to them. They crowned him homecoming king last fall, and even let the once rising football star score a ceremonial touchdown. Dom knows cancer all too well, and despite the odds, he is determined to defeat it.

"When I found out I had cancer, I was like, cancer killed my best friend and my great grandmother. So I always knew I was gonna beat it for them," he said.

But doctors aren't sure if Dom will survive to see his high school graduation in June. So the school is holding a special graduation for him on Thursday. It will be a bittersweet time.

"All I could think about was it's like a going away party," said friend Brooks Westrick. "It's just the hardest thing for me."

The ceremony will be official, attended by school board members, and plenty of friends. Dom will walk across the stage with his twin sister who will graduate as well.

"I can't think of two better people to be ther first to graduate from the Class of 2014 than those two," said Principal David Brower.
 

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