MEXIA, TX — The Central Texas community is rallying behind a terminally ill grandmother and her granddaughter with special needs.
It's a story Limestone County residents are calling a Christmas miracle, involving a remarkable young woman's effort to sell a pair of Nike sneakers in order to pay for her grandmother's funeral.
Michala Warneke is a Limestone County resident with special needs who loves her grandmother, Gladys Hargrove, dearly. Gladys takes care of Michala, and their strength is apparent.
In an interview on Wednesday, Gladys and Michala sat side by side, holding each other's hand.
"She means the world to me," Michala said.
"This world is not rich enough to buy her from me," said Gladys.
Valerie Watson is a caregiver for people with special needs. She's well known in the community as person who is constantly doing what she can to help others.
"I'm a caregiver for people with special needs, and I make sure everyone has what they need," she said.
In Gladys' old age, Watson has been looking over Michala and her grandmother, doing everything she can to help them.
"I met her about a year ago and her granny. I got to know them. I took them under my wing," Watson said.
But Gladys is terminally ill. She's diagnosed with liver cancer.
"We heard that she has six to nine months to live," Michala said.
Facing the tough reality of soon losing her grandmother and her best friend, Michala has showed remarkable resilience. She started by putting a pair of her Nike sneakers online for sale in order to pay for her grandmother's funeral.
"I knew she loved, but I didn't know she went this far," Gladys said.
With a starting price of $25.00, Michala posted her shoes on Facebook.
"I raised up some money to give her a funeral," Michala said.
But the sneakers went for a lot more than $25.00.
"One thousand dollars," Michala said with a smile.
Thanks to anonymous donors in the community, Michala was able to sell her Nike sneakers for $1,000. She even got to keep the shoes.
"Michala saw something coming up on her Facebook, and she said, "Nanna, come her and look!" And she's got a thousand dollars on her phone," Gladys said.
The community also donated gift cards and a photo shoot for Michala and Gladys.
It's an instance that is as remarkable as it surprising, Gladys said, but she still had one prayer she needed answered in a Christmas that may be her last.
"I love Jesus and I want to go home because I'll have a new body and I wont feel no pain," said the grandmother.
Gladys has asked God to send her someone to watch over Michala when she's gone.
"I asked Jesus to find somebody to take her under her wing," she explained.
Gladys said her prayer was answered when Watson came into her and Michala's life.
"And He gave me Valerie, she's an angel to me," she said.
Face to face, Watson responded to a crying Gladys.
"I'm a proud of myself, knowing I can give Michala a home where she'll be loved," she said.
For people that always gives to others, this Christmas has reminded Watson, Gladys, and Michala of the truly remarkable things that happen to good people.
When asked if she believes in Christmas miracles, Watson had one answer.
"Yes, I do," she explained. "Because this was a miracle."
25 News first came across the story in a Facebook post from Valerie's best friend, Lisa Jane Stewart. In it, Valerie and Lisa explained to crying and appreciative Gladys and Michala the news about the Nike sneakers, and that they'd also be receiving a set of gift cards and a photo shoot thanks to help from the community. You can view that post here.