By Carolyn Lee
The Imperial Republican
Eighteen-year old Dustin Holmes received a standing ovation Monday at Chase County Schools (CCS). He was applauded by students from the youngest through his Class of 2015 classmates, by family, by friends, by neighbors, by teachers, by church family and by just about everyone else in Imperial.
The occasion was a Celebration of Accomplishment. Holmes received a certificate recognizing his attendance at CCS and his “achievements up to this point” as a special student and a special person.
The timing was good, CCS Secondary Principal Mike Sorensen noted, because Holmes and his family will be in Omaha Wednesday, consulting with a neurosurgeon concerning two tumors nestled into his upper spine.
Holmes, who has Neurofibromatosis type 1, will be assessed at the University of Nebraska Medical Center as to the possibility of removing those tumors or other options, according to brother Mason.
Mason said the tumors are presumed to be in the C1 and C2 area at the top of his neck.
Neurofibromatosis is characterized by the growth of tumors along nerves in the skin, brain and other parts of the body.
The effects of the condition can include severe pain, learning impairment, loss of vision and severe disability due to nerve compression by the tumors, which can become cancerous.
Holmes, who has been active in Special Olympics bowling and basketball, is now relying on a wheelchair for movement.
That hasn’t kept him down, though. Tributes by classmates during the ceremony Monday gave proof to that.
Isaac Sorensen said Holmes is humble, respects others and has “a good attitude and a greater sense of humor. He’s made my day brighter and made a pretty significant impact on my life.”
Lunch mate Jeff Dickey said Holmes has “always had a way to bring a smile to our faces. Our class has a special place in our hearts” for him.
Kelton Fisher added that Holmes amazed him when the two were study buddies in an ag class.
He said Holmes received an “A” on a test, impressing everyone. “Keep your eyes on the Lord,” he declared.
Makenna Wallin, in a prayer shared with the large crowd, thanked the Lord for the “time given us with Dustin,” and asked for peace and comfort for his family during this time of decisions.
To keep him warm during his hospital stay, the Imperial Volunteer Fire Department presented their honorary member with a sweater vest.
Holmes has also just been named “Fireman of the Year” by the IVFD, and will be honored during its annual banquet in March.
The 18-year old was inducted into the fire department last summer. His lifelong dream has been to become a fireman.
Principal Sorensen said the ceremony Monday was at Holmes’ parents’ request. They felt that if Dustin has surgery, he might not be recovered enough to attend his graduation ceremony in May.
His parents are Corey and Missy Holmes of Imperial and Randi and Scott Piepho of Wiggins, Colo. Brother Mason and special education teacher Carol Vetter organized the ceremony.
Compassion, humor, camaraderie, a consideration for others, leadership.
“Dustin comes to school every day with a great attitude and a willingness to learn,” Sorensen told the packed gymnasium.
And he’s a good friend who has many good friends.