School honors lost classmate - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

School honors lost classmate

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Albany-- Albany High School is honoring a student who died last month from a disorder most people have never heard of. Tiffany Blankenship was born with Prader-Willi Syndrome, a genetic disorder that causes both physical and mental disabilities.

Despite those obstacles, Tiffany was an active student and a good friend. So when she died, her classmates and teachers knew they had to honor her memory.

"She wanted every one to be happy. She always had a positive attitude," said her mother, Diane Blankenship. Sixteen-year-old Tiffany Blankenship's parents, Tom and Diane, always knew she wouldn't live a long life. So, they want it to a full one. They say Albany High School made that happen.

"She loved school. She didn't like to miss school," Mrs. Blankenship said.

"Prader-Willi Syndrome is a chromosomal disorder of the 15th chromosome which causes a lot of physical and mental problems," said her father, Tom Blankenship.

Prader-Willi disrupts the part of the brain which controls appetite, causing a constant feeling of hunger. "They don't know what it is like to be full, so they're constantly looking for food to eat," mom said.

Which often leads to obesity and other health problems. In February, Tiffany died of complications caused by the obesity. Her death devastated the school.

"Tiffany was such a loving kind person," said Albany High School teacher Dr. Brenda Williams. "We thought the best honor we could bring to her is the bring awareness to the disorder that she had."

So Friday was Kindness Day at Albany High School. Students wore pink shirts and white ribbons to remember Tiffany and collected money to fund Prader-Willi Research.

They also spread the overwhelming kindness Tiffany was known for giving. "It helps us to know that other people will benefit from this program today. It's real honoring to Tiffany and our family for this," said Diane.

The students gave the Blankenships a lily to serve as a living memory of Tiffany, a student who will never be forgotten at Albany High. Prader-Willi Syndrome affects one in 15,000 babies, but it is often misdiagnosed.

posted by dave.miller@walb.com