SPECIAL REPORT: Auburn High students inspire others to embrace different friendships

AUBURN, AL (WTVM) - In a world where differences can be seen as scary or something to shy away from, two Auburn High School students hope they've inspired millions of you to simply reach out and begin a friendship with someone whose characteristics can greatly enrich your life.

It all began with Taylor Johnson, a senior at Auburn High, asked her best friend to homecoming by dressing up as Holman's favorite NASCAR driver Kyle Busch while holding a sign asking him to "race to homecoming" with her.

"It means the world to me," said Auburn High School student Holman Head.

"It's like he said, it truly means the world to him. It's something he's never been able to do, Holman's mother, Amy Head, explained.

The sweet story quickly went viral and millions felt inspired - and so did Kyle Busch and his wife, Samantha.

Busch sent an Interstate Battery car to drive the teens to homecoming, along with a video message inviting them to one of the biggest NASCAR races of the year - Talladega.

"Holman, since you are such a big fan, we want to invite you and Taylor to Talladega next week," Busch said in the video message.

After racing to homecoming the teens found themselves speeding around Talladega for an unforgettable meet and greet with the man who inspired the perfect homecoming proposal, Holman's idol - Kyle Busch.

"It's just been the most amazing thing and to experience this with Holman, I wouldn't want to share this with anyone else," Taylor said.

When Holman was asked what he wanted to say about Taylor he replied, "She is just the best friend I ever had."

Back in Auburn, Taylor and Holman have settled back into their normal routine of hanging out in the kitchen, but Holman is now a local celebrity and he loves it.

"We couldn't go anywhere without someone saying, 'hey Holman' and we would ask him who is that and he would say I have no idea but it just brought this huge smile to his face, he was noticed," Amy Head said.

"I am excited it became such a big story but it shouldn't have to be it should be more normal to be something others do cause it is what we are called to do," Taylor explained.

"When you have children with special needs you hope so much just like your other children they will go out into the world and be able to be a friend but to also have a friend," said Amy Head.

Holman, Taylor, and their families hope their story will inspire others to reach out and begin a friendship with someone different, whether that person has special needs, is a different race or religion, or the child you see at school being picked on or bullied.

"We do tend to get into our little bubbles and often we spend time with people that are like ourselves, but it can be important for us to reach out and developed friendship with people who may be different from you and it can be really rewarding," Auburn University's Psychology Professor Chris Correia said.

Correia says making friends can be difficult for some, especially kids with special needs, leaving them to feel isolated and hesitant to reach out fearing rejection or worse – someone making fun of them.

"All special needs, if they are children, adults anyone it doesn't matter we all have the same needs the same wants everyone wants to be loved to be seen to know they are important. When you reach out to someone else it makes a difference for in their life, but it also brings you so much joy I can't even explain it," explained Amy Head.

Experts say it's up to parents to encourage your children to go sit by the lonely kid in the lunchroom or walk up to a child with special needs and start a conversation.

Of course, there's no guarantee your child will find the best friendship like Taylor and Holman share, but then again - what if they do?

"His friendship is so pure so selfless, true it is the easiest friendship I have ever had it is just easy, no drama no worry, no conflict never has been and never will be," Taylor said. "I never have to question will Holman be there for me will he understand how I am feeling, he just always has and I know he always will be."

Soon, Taylor will head off to school at Troy and Holman will stay in Auburn. For the first time in 10 years, the best friends won't be able to see each other whenever they want.

Taylor says no matter the distance, Holman will always be her best friend and a priority because being with him just feels like home.

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