Emotional footage of a mother-son wedding dance, from October this year, is helping a Tennessee man to raise awareness of ALS after it went viral online.
“I was wanting to do something really special for her because one of the things is when she was diagnosed with ALS, she was waiting for two things in her life to happen, before she wanted to go to the other side so to speak,” Hightower said.
“She was waiting for her granddaughter to be born, my niece, and she is going on six months now, seven months, and then she was waiting for our wedding. She wanted to be at our wedding.”
Hightower had hoped for a special dance with his mom but found picking the right music particularly tough. He involved his sister in the decision before finally selecting the song “Mothers,” by local artist Thomas Finchum.
At the wedding, Hightower and his father both helped his mom out of her wheelchair for the dance. Partway through, all the children joined in, and the tears began to flow for everyone.
“My plan was to pick her up out of her chair. She didn’t have the strength to stand. My father helped me get her out of her chair," he recounted.
"I held her up. We stood there for probably 30 seconds while I was holding her and dancing and once we sat mom back down in her chair, all of her kids come up to be around her because I wanted it to be a special moment for her. She never really got all of the kids around very often and she always loved to. I wanted to make sure she knew that all of her kids were there with her and loved her.”
Sadly, Hightower’s mom passed away toward the end of last month. Her memory will live on. She was a paramedic for about three decades in Middle Tennessee, and 15 ambulances escorted her to the church. There was even a flyover from the MedEvac.
"She changed so many lives,” Hightower told Fox 17. “It’s incredible. I can’t even begin to scratch the surface on how many people she impacted in her life because she was impacting millions of people before I was even thought of.”
Hightower is using the viral video's popularity to spread awareness about his mom’s condition. ALS (or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. It is perhaps better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Currently, there is no cure.
“I never really knew what ALS was, Lou Gehrig’s Disease. I never really looked into it and a lot of people probably don’t because it’s very rare,” Hightower said.
“When mom found out, I was researching and doing all this stuff and you know it’s heart-breaking to read the side effects of ALS. Knowing that there’s no cure for ALS, you know I just want to get the message out there. It’s a disgusting disease and whoever is going through it with families, you’re not the only one. There’s many families out there that are having to go through the same exact thing.”
Hightower has said that he will always cherish that special moment with his mom but is determined to use its impact for good. He has offered his advice to any family dealing with ALS:
“Don’t be afraid to reach out and talk to somebody. Don’t bottle it in.”