East Tennessee girl, who inspired her community, dies from brain cancer

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CROSSVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Destiny Keathley, a sixth grader at North Cumberland County Elementary School, died overnight, according to school officials.

She took a turn for the worse while in Florida last week, but improved enough to make it back home to Crossville. That was thanks to ambulance drivers who volunteered to return her from Florida.

School officials said grief councilors and youth pastors will be on hand on Thursday to help grieving students. The added a school memorial will probably not be held until after next week.

Days before her death, Destiny's friends and classmates decorated the halls of the school with reminders of her, and spoke about her fight with cancer. "There are moments when everything seems normal, but then they ask where she's at or what she's doing, or how she's doing," said Katie Reed, one of her teachers.

"It's not fun anymore. Yeah, it's not the same because she made all the boring places fun," said her classmates, Reece Stover, Harley Conley and Payt Bussey.

"She was a really good friend. And sometimes when Mrs. (Misty) Goss left the room, she would pretend to be the teacher and be like 'this is what we're gonna do," said Conley.

"It's just not the same without her there," said Goss, her homeroom teacher. "Destiny I love you and I miss you, and you've taught me more in two months than I've learned in 37 years."

"It is phenomenal what one child, one teenager has been able to teach me in that small period of time. Not only about strength and overcoming challenges, but how to be the best person and be such a positive influence on every person around you," said another teacher, Dr. Summershea Shadden.

The class is putting together a scrap book for Destiny and her family. It's filled with fun memories, like the night she was queen of the ball and how happy she made them feel.

Her date that night was her boyfriend. As soon as he learned she was back from Florida, he rushed to her bedside.

"I start every morning hearing a teenage boy in love telling me how much he loves her, and how much he cares for her, how much he misses her," said Shadden.

"I can't describe it, the support of the school. The students, the teachers, Mrs. England and all of them have been beyond wonderful," said Destiny's mom, Angel Bowman.

The school is collecting money for Destiny and her family, and bringing them meals so they don't have to leave the house.

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