As he gazed across the stadium, waving to his friends, Logan Cook's smile was a mile wide.
Cook, 20, a senior at Grove High School, was invited by his classmates to join in the 2018 Homecoming celebration as an honorary student council representative.
The event, orchestrated by Braden Wadley and Cheyenne Mitchell and others, was designed to honor and celebrate Cook's contribution to the 2018-19 Student Council leadership class.
"He's been with us every day," Wadley said. "He always brings a smile, he's always happy. Everyone loves him.
"We thought homecoming would be a way to make him feel special."
Wadley said he asked Mitchell if Cook could join them in the parade. When she agreed, the pair took the idea to Grove High School Principal Renáe Dozier.
"Everyone just loves him," Wadley said. "He lights up a room. He makes everyone happy, and makes us laugh. He deserves it. We thought it would be awesome for him to have a special moment."
Dozier agreed, contacting Cook's parents, Shanon and Jim Paxson, for approval.
With everyone on board, plans were set in motion to have Cook join in the festivities.
Paxson said she began to work with Cook, who faces challenges with autism and other diagnosis, to prepare her son for the parade.
"It swelled my heart because I know this is a rare opportunity for students to come out and support another student with challenging behaviors," Paxson said.
Paxson said her son loves to attend the leadership classes. She's grateful his instructors, Kristin Farris and Gloria Mims, for working with Cook to make the class happen.
"He wants to be apart of it, and they arranged for it to happen," Paxson said. "With lots of encouragement and the help of the kids, encouraging him to be there.
"The Leadership Class has really taken him in."
Paxson said she was proud to watch her son take part in the parade and pep rally.
"He's come a long way," she said. "Logan's faced a lot of challenges. To be at this point is a miracle. It's taken the help of the staff, teachers, faculty plus the students."
On the morning of homecoming, Paxson said her son was up and ready to go at 4 a.m. She said his smile lasted until he went to bed that night.
"He kept asking me 'did you see me mama? did you see me?'" Paxson said. "He also asked 'are you proud of me, I did so good.'
"He was so full of excitement. He was so happy to be apart of the day with his friends."
Paxson said she will forever be grateful to the members of the student council - and the entire student body - who made Cook feel important on Friday.
"It takes special people to step out of their comfort zones, and their friend zones to bring others into their world," Paxson said. "This brought him a genuine joy. There's no way to explain it. He was so happy and it was exciting for him."
Wadley said he and Mitchell did not fully realize the impact of their request until after the homecoming pep rally.
"We didn't know how big it was until [Saturday] I saw the picture of him standing by us, smiling, and the way Cheyenne and I were looking at him," Wadley said. "It just pulls on your heart strings.
"It was something special for us - we'll never forget it, but we'll move on. Logan will remember this forever. I'm beyond happy we were able to do this."
Wadley said he will remember how something that seems small, could mean so much to another person.
"It was little to us but it was huge for him," Wadley said. We were able to share the limelight with him.
"A split second decision that day, became a huge decision in his life, and in the life of his parents."
Despite not winning the homecoming royalty titles, Paxson said in her heart, Wadley, Mitchell and the other student council members, are already winners.
"When someone has kindness in their hearts, they are set up for life," Paxson said. "They are already winners.
"It was simple in their minds. They were genuinely being kind to Logan. They are one of a kind. Not many people step up to do this.
"It's refreshing to see that they didn't do this for attention, but rather the did it because they wanted to do something special. That speaks volumes of those teens."