Class crowns two students with Down syndrome as homecoming king and queen

June 8th, 2021

The crowd roared as homecoming king and queen Travjuan “Bubba” Hunter and Semone Adkins waved to their adoring fans at West Orange High School in Winter Garden, FL.

Their reign was made possible by their classmates who insisted that the two teens with Down syndrome be coronated during the homecoming introductions before the school’s football game.

At West Orange High, two high-school seniors with Down syndrome have been elected homecoming king and queen by their…

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“The student body has just embraced them, and all of this wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for the admiration and respect from the student body,’’ teacher Jim Mattingly, who works with students with intellectual disabilities,” told “It’s just been absolutely breathtaking to watch.”

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Posted by West Orange High School – OCPS onWednesday, September 25, 2013

Hunter and Adkins, who were long-time friends, beat out 10 finalists chosen from a pool of 800 students.

They were independently elected by almost 3,800 students.

Their titles allowed them to compete in a talent competition, ride in a parade, and be brought out during the homecoming procession in a red Ferrari and black Maserati fitting for royalty.

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“That moment was awesome,’’ Semone’s mother Karen McNeil said. “It was something that I can’t explain. When they chose Bubba and Semone for the homecoming king and queen, I feel that those kids really proved that they are just like everyone else, and they can do anything any other person can do.”

The Down Syndrom Association of Central Florida reports that Hunter and Adkins are the first special needs students to become homecoming king and queen at their Florida high school.

The two lived just blocks apart and knew each other since they were six.

Seeing her daughter achieve such a title meant a lot to McNeil who lost her 3-year-old daughter to neuroblastoma and almost didn’t go through with Semone’s pregnancy after suffering the previous loss and learning Semone would be born with Down syndrome.

“I was supposed to have an abortion with her,’’ McNeil said. “I would have had to have had a partial abortion because I was so far along in the pregnancy, and the doctor wouldn’t do it. I thank God he did not let me be able to have that abortion. That’s why it was such a big deal for me when Semone won because she really wasn’t supposed to be here.”

It was a happy day for High School Seniors Travjuan "Bubba" Hunter and Semone Adkins who were crowned homecoming King…

Posted by Gary L. Bauer onMonday, October 14, 2013

“When she came out, I was scared to look at her,’’ McNeil said. “I wasn’t educated about Down syndrome, but then I heard the doctor say, ‘She is beautiful.’ From that point on, I started hemorrhaging and almost died, but I promised God that if he let me live, I would love her and take care of her forever. When I said that, that’s when my blood pressure started coming back up.”

Seeing Semone as homecoming queen was a miracle for her mother. Bubba also survived against the odds. He was born prematurely 23-weeks-old weighing just three pounds.

He was kept in the neonatal intensive care unit for two months before he was allowed to come home.

That’s why getting to see him shine during homecoming was such as great experience for those who loved him. Unfortunately, Bubba passed away at age 20 but homecoming made for a wonderful memory for those around him.

“Bubba was just full of life, and he passed that joy along to everyone he met,” said Amy Van Bergen, executive director of the Down Syndrome Association of Central Florida. “That pure joy you saw — riding in the homecoming parade, doing the talent show and dancing with his homecoming queen — I will never, ever forget those moments. I can picture him standing in the auditorium … throwing up his arms to the crowd and getting a standing ovation. It was magical.”

Learn more about Bubba and Semone’s magical day in the video below.

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Source: TODAY, Orlando Sentinel, The Palm Beach Post