VANCLEAVE, MS (WLOX) - A Vancleave teen who inspired her community with her brave fight against cancer has died. Natalie Hightower was 15, and a student at Vancleave High School.
We first told you Natalie's story in May of 2013. She was 12-years-old and just underwent surgery to remove a brain tumor. The close-knit community of Vancleave turned out in a sea of orange at a prayer vigil for the girl.
By August, Natalie's life was returning to normal. She was back in school, and cheering on the sidelines at Vancleave Middle School football games. A month later, her classmates elected her Homecoming Queen. But the brain tumor was malignant, and her treatments continued.
Natalie's health would slowly decline over the next year, but her positive attitude didn't. She continued to live life, love her family and friends, and fight her illness.
Friday, her fight ended. And now a community is mourning her death, and celebrating her life. As a show of support, everyone is being encouraged to wear orange to tonight's VHS football game in honor of Natalie.
Watch for more on Natalie's story tonight on WLOX News at 10pm.