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Rome, Floyd County: A community that comes together

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Over any given year, there’s a number of stories that document both the individual and community triumphs. Whether it’s responding to tragedies elsewhere or someone local overcoming great odds. These are a few that caught our eye:

West End Elementary fifth-grader has her wish to return home granted

Nuluu Johnson, a fifth-grader at West End Elementary, was taken by surprise when, during lunch at school Sept. 29, representatives of Make-A-Wish Georgia made an announcement that her wish to return to Uganda to see her relatives and go on a safari with her family had been granted. She is going on the trip over Christmas break.

Tears came to her eyes as she embraced her siblings and her adoptive parents, Jeremy and Mandi Johnson, while students, teachers and administrators clapped and cheered for her.

The Johnsons adopted her from a Ugandan orphanage when she was a 4-year-old. Two and a half years ago, she received a cancer diagnosis — a tumor had planted itself at the base of her brain, right behind her eyes. The tumor is now stable, after a number of procedures, but treatment of it continues. Unlike many of the other Make-A-Wish kids, Nuluu Johnson’s illness is not terminal.

She has also provided support to a school custodian who was recently diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer. Other kids had written cards to him, but she went above and beyond to pen a heartfelt note detailing her own struggle with cancer and offering hope. Her card now has its place on the custodian’s refrigerator.

Community pulls together to provide relief for victims of hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria

Much of Rome and Floyd County, from schools to law enforcement to churches to businesses, came together in the aftermath of three hurricanes, which ravaged places like Houston, Florida and Puerto Rico.

Schools and churches across the county used their buildings as drop-off points for supplies to be sent to victims of these natural disasters. Elm Street Elementary School partnered with the Museum of Flight at Richard B. Russell Regional Airport to stockpile disaster-relief supplies that were flown to Houston by volunteer pilots. The school was one of many in the community that collected hundreds and hundreds of water bottles for hurricane victims.

The RomeGaCares effort was led by the Floyd County Sheriff’s Office to send convoys with supplies to Texas and Florida. Sheriff’s office deputies and volunteers also traveled to Glades County, Florida, to lend a helping hand beyond the supplies they delivered. Besides hand delivering relief packages to these residents’ neighborhoods, they helped secure damaged roofs with tarps and cleared debris.

The local chapter of the American Red Cross also assisted families that had fled from Houston and Puerto Rico in the aftermath of the hurricanes which struck their homes.

Joint Law Enforcement Center is filled with hundreds for candlelight vigils in response to tragedies in Orlando and Charlottesville

A shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando on June 12 which killed or wounded dozens and dozens of people spurred the local group Turn Your Back on Hate to organize a candlelight vigil in the following days.

Over a hundred locals came to the lawn outside the Joint Law Enforcement Center to show love and support for the victims of the shooting. Local Chad Watson said the vigil was a “message to the haters that we aren’t going to back down.”

“We are all humans and deserve to be treated the same no matter what race, sexuality, or religion,” Amee Edwards said. “As a community we need to stand as one.”

Another candlelight vigil was held the week after the deadly events in Charlottesville, Virginia, that erupted following clashes between rallying white nationalists and counter-protesters. A vehicle had driven into a crowd of demonstrators, killing one and injuring 19 others.

Once again residents flocked to the Joint Law Enforcement Center lawn, in a show of unity to contrast the racial tension which gave rise to clashes. Speakers shared messages of hope that all Americans can come together to do away with divisions.