Knoxville high school senior with autism runs for homecoming king

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Friday was a big night for Central High School students as the Bobcats went up against Morristown West on the football field.

But touchdowns and plays weren’t the best highlights. It was a special needs senior running for homecoming king. Blake Coker, 19, and his family spent Friday evening preparing for a night worth remembering.

“I was so excited when he called to ask me to escort him,” said Taylor Lay, Coker’s best friend since kindergarten, as she pinned a boutonniere on his tux.

It was a busy night for the pair. They and their fellow homecoming court members met in room 102.

“This was his goal for senior year,” said his mom Stacy Pressly.

To run for homecoming king, Coker has been raising money for his school’s Special Olympics team.

“I think a lot of people underestimate kids like Blake and they have to realize he’s just like everyone else,” added Pressly.

It was a job this senior could do because he’s sweet and outgoing.

“He’ll be in the lunch room and everybody will be like ‘Hey Blake!’ and he’ll go up to people. Everybody knows who he is. He’s just a popular kid and everybody loves him,” said Lay.

Friday night there were snapshots and celebrations. When it was Coker’s turn to walk on the field, the crowd cheered loudly.

“I hope he just had fun doing it,” said Lay.

Only one person can be crowned and unfortunately, Coker didn’t win, but his family says it was a win-win night.

“Very proud. I’m always proud of him,” said Pressly.

Coker raised more than $3,200 for Central High School’s Special Olympics team. His family says he ran for homecoming king in the past and was runner up.

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