Growing up in a small town when you're a little bit different can be hard. I know this first hand. And kids these days, it seems, are more malicious than ever. So, it warmed my heart to read the story of Whitney Kropp, a sophomore from Ogemaw Heights High School in West Branch, Michigan. Some kids played a prank that could have wrecked her spirit, but the town has rallied behind her to make this an amazingly positive experience. Whitney is in the running for homecoming queen. Something that she wasn't expecting, seeing as how she isn't particularly popular, and is often picked on because of her black clothes and multi-colored hair. But, when she heard her name announced, she was overjoyed. Unfortunately that soon changed.

Soon, she learned why she had been nominated. She learned that many of her classmates thought it would be funny if an unpopular girl was part of a popularity contest.

Other students pointed and laughed at her in the halls. The boy who was voted to escort her withdrew from homecoming all together (though he has since said that he will, indeed, walk with her). Other students told her it was because the boy was embarrassed to be linked to her.

Whitney considered pulling out of the race all together, but her mother, sister and grandmother convinced her to do it. And she agreed. I have no doubt that she'll be showing them up on Friday when she walks out on to the field.

And her town has rallied around her. There is a Facebook group dedicated to supporting Whitney (at the time of this writing, the group has over 6,200 "likes". The population of the city of West Branch? Only 2,100.). Multiple businesses have donated services and items to Whitney to make sure that she has an amazing homecoming experience. For the dance on Saturday night, businesses will buy her her dinner, take her picture, do her hair and makeup, and provide her with her dress, shoes, and tiara.

For the homecoming game on Friday, residents of the small, farming town, plan to pack the football stadium and cheer as loud as they can for Whitney. They also plan to wear her favorite color (which is orange) and t-shirts with messages showing their support.

This may have started out as a prank, but this girl who has never been popular, will be the most popular girl at that game. And I hope it makes her smile.