Student with Costello Syndrome crowned Homecoming Queen - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Student with Costello Syndrome crowned Homecoming Queen

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McNairy County (WMC) -

The joy of being homecoming queen at McNairy Central High School has probably never been more overwhelming than with the crowning of Sara Jo Hurst. The petite senior has to be the most popular choice ever to wear the crown as McNairy Central's football homecoming queen.

There was applause, cheers, and more than a few tears when her name was announced as the homecoming queen.

Hurst, 17, has dealt with Costello syndrome since birth. She is the daughter of Clint and Mindy Hurst. Sara Jo has two sisters, Jessica Edwards and Rachel Hurst, and a brother, River Hurst. River is a sophomore at MCHS.

Costello syndrome is a rare genetic disorder that affects many parts of the body. It is characterized by delayed development, distinctive facial features, unusually flexible joints, and heart problems. Infants with Costello grow slowly and have problems feeding.

Sara Jo is around four foot tall and weighs around 55 pounds. 

"The football players will never know how much it means to my family that they nominated Sarah Jo to be in the homecoming court," her emotional mother said. "Clint and I can never thank those boys enough for what they have done for her."

Football seniors chose Sara Jo as one of their two representatives in homecoming. Each class of football players gets to nominate their two members for homecoming. The football team chooses 'sweetheart' and the entire student body votes on 'queen.' Sara Jo won both.

"She has been floating in the clouds since she found out about being nominated," Mindy said. "I asked her this week if she was going to ever come back down to Earth."

This year's senior Bobcats revealed that they have big hearts when they honored their classmate.

"We were all tickled to death when we found out that Sara Jo had been nominated to be in the homecoming court," Mindy Hurst said. "I was so happy that I really could not believe it."

Cheerleader sponsor Mary Duncan called Mindy to tell her about the nomination and invited her to come to school for the announcement of the homecoming court.

"I told Sara Jo that I had to be at school for a meeting and tried to hide my phone from her," Mindy said. "I knew her reaction would be great, but it was better than I even thought."

Sara Jo's reaction when she realized that her name had been called over the PA was priceless. She was so excited at that time that she was almost overcome with emotion.

"Sara Jo does not miss anything and it is hard to keep a secret from her," Mindy said. "I told after the announcement that I had kept one secret from her."

Sara Jo was born in 1998, but she was not officially diagnosed with Costello until 2005 at a conference in St. Louis. A heart surgeon in Boston told Sara Jo's parents in 2000 that she thought Sara Jo had Costello.

There are believed to be only 400 Costello patients in the world, but there are two in McNairy County. 

Mindy ordered Sara Jo's dress at Pennie Lane Formals without asking the price of the dress. The dress is estimated at between $200-300. Mindy isn't sure exactly how much it costs, because she got a pleasant surprise when she called the store this week to find out what she owed them.

"They told me that someone had anonymously paid for the dress when I called them this week," Mindy said. "I could not believe someone had paid for the dress and did not want us to know."

Sara Jo was also named as the "Most Likely to be Remembered" in this year's Who's Who.

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