COUNTRYSIDE, Ill. — Victoria “Tori” Reyes, is just like every other high school girl with one exception — she was just anointed queen.
Tori, a 17-year-old junior at Lyons Township High School, does it all. She sings, cheers on the football team, plays Special Olympics basketball, swims and bowls.
Tori’s best friend Kate nominated her to serve as queen for the Countryside St. Patrick’s Day parade.
“Tori is such a good friend of mine now and she’s really inspired me to be a better person,” Kate said.
Tori and Kate got to know each other through the Best Buddy’s Program which pairs special needs students with General Ed students. Tori has Down syndrome.
The program means the world to Tori. And it has touched Kate. Just 14 years old, a freshman, Kate wrote a heartfelt letter to the Countryside parade organizers telling them how much she loves Tori.
“I just said how contagious her happiness was. Everybody seems to be happy around her and I’m so proud to call her my friend,” Kate said.
For Tori’s mom Rebecca Reyes, it comes as no surprise that her daughter was named queen.
“When she was born, her dad and I kinda had a conversation and I looked at him and said, ‘If there’s anything she wants to do in life. I’m going to figure out a way to make it happen for her,'” Reyes said.
Tori takes her throne March 5, leading the parade. She’s half Irish and she’ll sport her green and her crown.
Next Wednesday, Tori will take part in a crowing ceremony where she’ll receive her crown and sash.