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Classmates Surprise McKinney Teen with Dance Thrown in Her Honor

“You guys are nothing but blessings to me," Kate Pepper told the crowd

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    Classmates Surprise McKinney Teen With Dance Thrown in Her Honor

    A McKinney high school student gets the surprise of her life when fellow students throw a school dance in her honor. (Published Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2019)

    A McKinney teenager facing the fight of her life received a surprise from hundreds of her high school friends.

    NBC 5 first met Kate Pepper at the start of the 2018 school year when she was banned from wearing a turquoise wig to McKinney High School because it violated school policy.

    The District reversed its decision after NBC 5's story aired and went viral, and after a Facebook post supporting Kate by Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick.

    Kate hasn’t been at school much lately.

    She was first diagnosed with anaplastic astrocytoma, a form of brain cancer, in 2014 but beat it.

    It returned last summer.

    This time, there is no more treatment.

    Five months later, Kate's school planned a surprise to make her feel special. Friday night, hundreds of classmates gathered at the Cotton Mill in McKinney for a secret school dance thrown in her honor.

    Kate has never hidden from her battle.

    When she lost her hair over the summer, she owned it in a bright-colored turquoise wig.

    Today, the wig is gone, her hair is back and her spirit is strong.

    She was pampered Friday by a make-up artist and photographers who volunteered to shoot Kate’s senior photos.

    "I feel beautiful," she said of the experience. 

    After the photo shoot, her boyfriend Braylon Shavers showed up with an unexpected invitation to dinner at Rick's Chophouse in McKinney.

    But Kate had no idea the night would include dinner and dancing.

    A mile away, friends, teachers and family were preparing for the big surprise.

    “We're doing this ball, this dance for Katilyn so that she can feel like a princess that she is. She can have that prom experience right now while she feels good,” Kate’s mom Tyliece Pepper said.

    The entire production was pulled together in a week by students and Kate's homebound teacher, Chelsea Boyd.

    “I didn't know you could speak wishes into reality until I showed up tonight. I'm overwhelmed,” Boyd said tearfully.

    Kate was overwhelmed, too, as she was met by extended family she hasn’t seen in years and a room full of friends she used to see every day.

    “You guys are nothing but blessings to me. Thank you God!” she said in a burst of emotion.

    "You guys are amazing people and if it wasn’t for you guys I wouldn’t be able to do this," Kate told the crowd.

    A GoFundMe page has been set up to help cover the cost of Kate's medical expenses.