High school freshman AJ Spader let his heart decide who to ask to his first formal dance. His heart told him to take his 10-year-old sister, who is dying from cancer.
Rebekah Spader was diagnosed with the terminal illness four years ago. Mom Stephanie Spader, who has five children, told INSIDE EDITION she doesn't know how much time Rebekah has left, but the girl most likely will never attend her own high school dance.
“So I just thought 'Why not ask her to [my] formal?'” AJ Spader said in an interview with KSFY.
"It was all his idea. It really made my mama-heart happy to know that we've raised a son that would do something so selfless," his mother told IE.
To give Rebekah a full date experience, AJ organized an elaborate proposal. He invited all of his friends to the family home, then knelt down and handed her a poster that read: "I would be broken if you weren't my sister because you taught me how to be brave, and I would be blessed if you went to formal with me."
Stephanie Spader said that AJ included their family motto, "Broken, brave, blessed," into the speech. The family adopted the saying when Rebekah was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome, a type of cancer that affects bone marrow and blood.
On the big evening of the Valentine's Day formal, AJ Spader also took Rebekah to dinner with his friends and their dates, KSFY reported.
Rebekah had her hair and make-up done. The group also posed for photos in their evening attire.
“It’s fun to watch her live part of life where the disease doesn't creep in,”dad Tony Spader said to KSFY. "She is just excited to be doing something that every child and every teenager gets to do."
In the end, Rebekah didn't feel up to dancing. But her brother told KSFY that Rebekah still had a great time dressing up and hanging out with the older kids.