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Local Girl Gets School Bus As Special Gift

Posted at 10:32 PM, Dec 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-25 16:25:14-05

A group of high school students in Gallatin worked together to give a very special Christmas gift to a very special little girl.

Gabriel, age 12, has been in love with school buses. She loves them so much, she'll pretend to be a bus driver.

“Anytime she gets an opportunity to get into my car to play school bus, she does that,” said Amy Howell, Gabriel's mother. “She buckles all the seat belts so that all of her children are secured."

Doctors diagnosed Gabriel with PVNH when she was 8 years old. It's a brain disorder that affects one in every million people.

"It's just where the neurons try to clump up in the center of the brain, and so information doesn't go back-and-forth like it's supposed to,” Howell said. “So she's always going to be a little toddler.”

But Gabriel won't let it get her down.

Her mom, a teacher at Gallatin High School, mentioned a school bus was on her daughter's Christmas list to her students, and that got senior Jessi Smith thinking.

"Because Gabby is so sweet,” Smith said. “[Mrs. Howell] has been a really big impact on my life. She's really shaped who I am and who I want to be as a person. She's helped me become what I want to be in life.”

Since November, some high schoolers collected donations to gut the inside of a bus, repaint it, replace the tires, and more.

“Gabby is going to be ecstatic,” Smith said. “She loves anything to do with the school buses, fire trucks, ambulances, police cars. All that, her mom is a teacher and her dad is a principal. So I guess you can see where the school theme came from, and she gets super excited very easily.”

Gabriel suspected Santa would visit this weekend and after a long wait, he arrived pulling a big, yellow school bus with his red sleigh.

Her family said this has truly been a Christmas to remember.

Gabriel’s mother said the school bus will stay in their yard for her to play with whenever she wants to "drive" her fellow students to school.