What a testament to this special small community.

Meghan Overdeep
October 24, 2017

When their son Neal suffered a stroke as a newborn, Shannon and Sonny Burch were told he may never be able to walk or even feed himself.

That was just the first time Neal defied the odds.

Although the stroke limited his development, it’s never stopped the Alabama native, now a senior at Sparkman High School in the town of Harvest, from living his life to the fullest. “Neal has two levels, it’s either sleep, or ‘I love everybody!’” his father Sonny told WHNT. It’s that attitude that’s allowed him to win over everybody he meets, including his classmates, who recently voted him their Homecoming King.

"He turns to the stands, he pumps up the game, he's the biggest Sparkman fan there ever was," Shannon says of her son who takes his position on the Senators’ bench very seriously. Thinking about it, the number on his football uniform (one) seems a lot like fate.

"All the things that we've come through over the last 18 years, to know he's accepted like this by his peers," Sonny told WHNT while watching his son receive the coveted crown. "It's an honor!"

It was an incredible moment, and not just for the Burches, but for the community. For first time in Sparkman history, both the Homecoming King and Queen were students with special needs. Neal and his queen, Morgan Shikoh, have been in classes together since third grade.

"A lot of these kids may have the opportunity in life for recognition and reward, but because of his disability, he may not," explained Shannon.

She continued: "He'll never forget this, he'll never forget it."