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True friendship
Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Kenny Howell

Managing Editor

True friendship is shown through selfless acts. 

A recently graduated Wilson Central teen proved that recently with an essay for the Graden Gaines Memorial Scholarship. 

Elizabeth Callas and Danielle Booth have been friends since they met as preschoolers at Grace United Methodist Church. Through elementary, middle and high school, they have been inseparable. 

For Danielle, there was no question who she would write about when she heard the announcement at Wilson Central High School for the Graden Gaines Memorial Scholarship. It was to be about someone who inspired you. While most had written about a parent or teacher, Danielle elected to write about her friend and her resolve she has shown through tough times the last few years. 

In June 2008, Callas lost her grandmother to leukemia. Her grandmother had driven the girls to downtown Nashville to ice skate nearly every weekend, so it was tough on Danielle as well. 

“I felt her grandmother’s loss as if I was losing a grandmother of my own,” wrote Danielle in her essay. 

Two years later, tragedy struck Elizabeth’s family again as her father Chris, who Danielle describes as the hardest working man she has ever known, was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. On Christmas Day, 2011, Elizabeth and her mother Gail rushed Chris to the hospital. A few hours later he passed away. 

Gail had been working for Bobcat for 15 years. However, when the economy took a down turn, and new owners bought out the company, employees started losing their job. Gail, unfortunately, was one of those, forcing her to look for a new job, while also adjusting to life as a single parent. 

Through all of this, Elizabeth has stayed strong. 

“She doesn’t let things break her down,” said Danielle, who said that she has never seen Elizabeth cry. That is definitely the opposite of Danielle. 

“I’m such a cry baby,” said Danielle. 

Danielle didn’t tell Elizabeth what she was doing at first. 

“She just came in and started asking a lot of questions about my life,” said Elizabeth. 

Danielle told her soon after that she was writing the essay about her, but kept another thing secret. She planned on giving the money to Elizabeth if she won. 

“I thought, wait, I don’t need this money,” said Danielle. 

Danielle let Elizabeth read it when she was done, to make sure she was OK with what she had written. 

“I thought it was sweet,” said Elizabeth. “I really didn’t know what to do.”

Elizabeth said she found it a complete surprise. She said it made their friendship stronger. Elizabeth said that she had been there for Danielle when she was going through tough times, and she was glad that she was there for her. 

Wilson Central English Teacher Carrie Tinsley, who was moved to tears by the essay, helped Danielle get it ready to submit for the scholarship. Each year, the Graden Gaines Memorial Scholarship honors a girl and a boy with $1,000 for college. This year, after reading the essay, and learning that Danielle was going to give the money to Elizabeth, they were each rewarded with the $1,000 scholarship. 

Both had planned on going to UT-Knoxville, but Elizabeth found that she would be able to get more money if she attended Tennessee Tech. She plans to study biology in the hopes of going into medical research. Her dream is to go into stem cell research, which she learned about during her grandmother’s illness. 

“It opens a whole new world,” said Elizabeth.

Danielle will study nursing at UT-Knoxville. She said she loves helping people, but also she has a problem with technology.

“I hate computers,” said Danielle. Danielle said that she doesn’t mind using technology in a job, but she definitely doesn’t want to be sitting in front of one all day long. 

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