Teen Who Enjoyed Bucket List Prom Dies of Cancer
Katelyn Norman, a Tennessee teenager whose bucket list rallied and inspired supporters from all over the country, died today after a two year battle with osteosarcoma, an aggressive bone cancer.
Katelyn, 14, died at East Tennessee Children's Hospital at 8:19 a.m., according to hospital spokeswoman Erica Estep.
After fighting the cancer for two years, she was told last week that it had spread and there was not much more doctors could do. She was sent home to spend her last days with her family, but returned to the hospital on Tuesday when she was having trouble breathing.
Katelyn made a bucket list that included attending a prom, a last slow dance, learning to drive a car, a day with each sibling and seeing Italy.
A special prom for her was planned for Tuesday night in LaFollette, Tenn., but during the day Katelyn was having difficulty breathing and had to be taken to the hospital. Doctors told her she couldn't go to her special prom, but she didn't want that to stop others from going.
"Katelyn wanted the prom to go on. That's her. That's Katie bug," Sharon Shepherd told ABCNews.com.
Shepherd works at Campbell County High School, where Katelyn was a freshman. She has known Katelyn since she was 5 years old and has grown even closer to the teen since her diagnosis in eighth-grade.
Katelyn then enjoyed her own prom in her hospital room, complete with disco balls hung from the ceiling, her white suit-wearing date, other friends in dresses and suits and her own prom queen sash and crown.
A Facebook page supporting Katelyn run by her best friend Brandon Huckaby has been flooded with messages of condolences and love for the family.
Huckaby posted a poem by an unknown author called "Four Candles" on the Facebook page shortly after Katelyn died that ended with, "We cherish the special place in our hearts that will always be reserved for you. We thank you for the gift your living brought to each of us. We love you. We remember you."
One of the other items on Katelyn's bucket list was to see the band Of Mice & Men in concert and get an autographed T-shirt from them. The band's fans flooded their Facebook page and Twitter accounts with links to Katelyn's story, urging them to reach out to her.
The band's lead vocalist Austin Carlile tweeted about Katelyn earlier in the week and again today.
"I told her not to be afraid because she wouldn't be alone," Carlile tweeted. "My mom is already an angel and would be taking care of her."
"Heaven gained another angel this morning. #RIPKatelynNorman Her light will never go out. She'll always be in my heart. I promised her that," he wrote.
A fundraising page to help pay for Katelyn's wish list has produced an outpouring of affection and generosity towards the teen. The page has raised more than $80,000, most of which has been donated this week.
Donations will be withdrawn from the site on April 2. The check will be sent to Katelyn and her family, along with copies of all of the messages of support. The website, GoFundMe.com, takes a percentage from each donation, but the rest of the money will be sent to the family.
Some of the money will go to churches and families that Katelyn wanted to support, she told her mother. The money will also be used to cover funeral expenses.
"I've never seen this community come together quite as much as they have over one single person," Shepherd said. "[Katelyn] will change your life. You'll never be the same. She will make an impact on you. She's a jewel. My life will never be the same."