Balloon release honors Homecoming Queen who died after transplant

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GROESBECK, Texas (KWTX) A balloon release Friday evening honored Groesbeck High School senior Brooklyn Wilson, who was crowned homecoming queen as she waited for a lifesaving liver transplant and then died of complications early Thursday after transplant surgery at Children’s Hospital in Dallas.

The balloons students plan to release are purple, which was Brooklyn Wilson's favorite color. (Funeral home photo)

The balloons that the high school’s senior class, cheerleaders and football players released were purple, which was Brooklyn’s favorite color.

Groesbeck residents, meanwhile, were putting up red bows Friday throughout town and at the high school stadium to pay tribute to Brooklyn, calling the effort “Bows for Brooklyn.”

“God gave Brooklyn the greatest family, friends and community of praying supporters to take care of her and love her through her nineteen years with them, and now she is surrounded by the love of her Heavenly Father and Lord Jesus Christ,” the girl’s obituary says.

“Those who loved her dearly, and even those who only barely knew her, can rejoice in her gain, and will keep her alive in their hearts through the memories of her happiest days and greatest pleasures.”

Brooklyn survived the transplant surgery Wednesday, but was taken back to the operating room after developing internal bleeding.

She passed away during the second surgery at around 3 a.m. Thursday.

A funeral service is scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday at First Baptist Church in Groesbeck.

The family asked that donations in Brooklyn’s memory be made either to the Groesbeck Booster Club or to the Groesbeck Education Foundation for the Brooklyn Wilson scholarship.

“She would want everyone to continue to support the groups she loved so much, her GOATS,” her obituary said.

News of Brooklyn’s death rocked the high school and the community.

"Groesbeck High School is heartbroken and grieving over the passing of Miss Brooklyn Wilson. Our counselors were available today and will continue to be available for students, faculty and staff,” school Principal Keri Allen said Thursday night.

“Brooklyn had such a sweet soul and she along with her sweet spirit will be dearly missed. Brooklyn will always be remembered as our No. 1 Goat Fan. She was greatly loved by our student body, faculty, staff, administration and all of GISD,” she said.

Brooklyn was crowned homecoming queen on Oct. 13 during the Groesbeck Goats’ game against Palestine Westwood.

Her father, Scott, rolled her onto the field in her wheelchair through a human chain of friends and family members to join the other homecoming nominees.

“My Dad told me ‘You won’ and I said ‘I know, I heard them,’ Brooklyn wrote afterward. “I was surprised.”

“It made me so happy,” she said.

“I could hear everyone cheering for me and shouting my name.”

Brooklyn, who was born with Down syndrome, was known as Groesbeck’s No. 1 fan, and on that October night it was clear that her classmates, who selected her for the honor, were hers.

“The fact that our seniors and student body voted to elect Brooklyn as Homecoming Sweetheart is another example of the good things that we have happening at GHS and the big love that we have in our small town,” Allen said after the ceremony.

When Brooklyn’s name was announced “our fans stood to their feet with applause, tears of joy and cheers,” she said.

The Groesbeck football team remained on the field for the announcement, lining the ramp to the field house, and joined in the cheers as Brooklyn was crowned.

The Goats went on to beat Palestine Westwood 50-0.

Brooklyn’s health had declined over the last several years and she spent most of her days either at Cook Children’s Hospital in Fort Worth or doing schoolwork at home.

But before her health left her sidelined, Brooklyn never missed the opportunity to cheer on her classmates in any activity, including her two older brothers, one a freshman who’s on the varsity football team, and the other who’s a recent graduate of the school.

Brooklyn was in the hospital when the nominations were announced at a pep rally on the Friday before the Homecoming game, but she was able to watch on Face Time.

The events were a high point in a roller coaster ride.

A liver was found for the teenager this fall, but the transplant was canceled after doctors discovered during preoperative preparations that she had double pneumonia.

(Julie Hays and Chelsea Edwards contributed to this story)