Girl, aided by East Texas generosity, achieves milestone 10 year - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Girl, aided by East Texas generosity, achieves milestone 10 years later

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Joy Stricklen in 2003 & 2014. Source: KLTV Staff. Joy Stricklen in 2003 & 2014. Source: KLTV Staff.
JACKSONVILLE, TX (KLTV) - An East Texas student is just days away from achieving a milestone that seemed unattainable years ago.

Joy Stricklen only has a few days left in the Jacksonville High School halls. On Friday, she and 200 other JHS seniors will become graduates.

"This is all you know, so I'm trying to take all of the emotions in at once," says Stricklen. High school is no easy feat, and for Stricklen, the road to graduation was a challenge. "Graduation is kind of like an early birthday present," she explains.

Stricklen spent five years out of public school because of health complications that made her frequently ill. "I came back two years ago, and it was going good --and still is-- and then I get a phone call one day saying, 'Oh well.. you can graduate,' and I started crying and my mom started crying and my dad was just standing there smiling saying, 'I knew you could do it,'" recalls Stricklen.

KLTV 7 first introduced East Texans to Joy more than a decade ago. At age seven she needed a wheelchair lift to get around. A generous Tyler company and a Lindale couple helped meet her needs.

"Before I had to walk out to the van, and now I can wheel out there to the van," seven-year-old Stricklen said in 2003. From age seven to her high school prom, Stricklen says she's going off into the world a confident young woman and has her friends and family to thank.

"For me, it's a really big accomplishment because I didn't think I'd ever come back to public school and graduate the way I wanted to," says Stricklen.

Stricklen says she plans on taking a year off of school and moving to Odessa where her sisters live. She adds, she wants to pursue TV and film production in college.

Copyright 2014 KLTV. All rights reserved.
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