LIMESTONE COUNTY, Ala. - A terminally ill teenager in Limestone County has received international attention for a request that at surface seems so basic - to simply go to school.
Thursday, that young man was able to be back in the classroom for the first time this year, but not without great compromises being made. It all started back in October when his mother, Rene Hoover, asked the Limestone County School Board something unexpected. She asked that if the time comes, to please allow her 14-year-old son Alex the right to die on school property.
It’s a plea no mother would want to ask, but it's one that gives Alex the greatest gift of all - happiness in the time he has left.
"There is a time to just sit back and stop and say, let's do the best we can with what time we've got," shared Rene Hoover.
That time has come for Alex and his family. The fun-loving 14-year-old is severely autistic and suffers from a heart condition. Being able to go back to school brings familiarity and enhances his quality of life in the precious time Alex has left.
"Where he is happy and what makes him happy is everything at this point,” explained Rene Hoover.
The school board agreed that Alex can attend school one day a week. The teenager can be on school grounds accompanied by his mother and hospice care nurse. This is a great compromise between all parties involved, one that took months to agree upon.
"He came home laughing at the kids, it was great. It was great," said Hoover.
Most importantly his Do Not Resuscitate order, or DNR, would be honored.
“Kids that are autistic in particular,” explained Hoover, “Including them in things that are familiar to them and routine is really important."
Which is why it was vital to the Hoover family to get Alex back in school, where he is comfortable socializing with friends.
The main issue for Alex going to school in Alabama comes down tho the fact that there aren’t any laws in place for terminally ill children. DNR orders lawfully cover adults 18-and-up.
"Parents need a voice,” expressed Hoover. “They need building blocks for kids with disabilities, especially those that are terminally ill. At the end we can make it happy, we can make it comfortable."
While back at school for the first time this year, Alex took a picture. In that picture he is beaming from ear to ear. For Alex, he's just a happy kid doing what's normal and spending time with friends. For his mom, it's a comfort knowing her son's end of life care will being honored.
"There's nothing more heartwarming for a parent that to see your child happy. So today is a good day," said Rene.
The Hoover family is working closely with Alabama State Representative Mac McCutcheon to introduce legislation that will give minors and their guardian’s legal rights when it comes to end of life care.