LUMBERTON, Texas — One Southeast Texas teen had an unusual birthday this year due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Her family was supposed to be enjoying the beach in Galveston for her Sweet 16.
With everyone in quarantine, the Lumberton community found a way to make her day one she'll never forget.
Ashlynn Andrepont turned 16 on Wednesday, a day that is even more special for this family than you might expect.
At the age of nine, she was diagnosed with a rare brain tumor called craniopharyngioma. Her diagnosis is rare. There are only 100 cases per year in the United States in children under the age of 18 years, according to St. Jude's Children Research Hospital.
"Was very sick, always had headaches. Just looked very exhausted all the time," Andrepont said. "They didn't think I would be as successful, because at the time it was a very scary situation."
Not only did she surpass expectations following surgery, her coordination improved so much, she was able to become a Lumberton Raiderette.
Of course, every girl dreams of a sweet 16, which looked to have disappeared with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
With the original plan ruined, the Lumberton community came up with their own.
Dozens of cars showed up outside her home, honking and sending her birthday wishes.
Ashylnn was stunned at the surprise.
"Waving, throwing my hands up, I was crying. I literally had tears rolling down my throat," she said.
Along with honks and wishes, some people also brought her gifts and one person played her favorite song, “Someone Else Calling You Baby” by Luke Bryan, as they drove by. A show of support, from a community that cares.
The parade was coordinated by Lumberton Raiderette director and one of Ashlynn’s neighbor. Heather Andrepont, Ashlynn's mom, said it's one reason she enjoys living where in the area.
"I love our community. That's one thing that we do, we take care of one another."
Although it wasn't the birthday Ashylnn dreamed of, it turned out to be even better.
"How many people took time out of the day, even though it was just to drive by, it really meant something," Ashlynn said.
"One out of ten, like a 1,000. I loved it so much."