Megan Simmons eagerly awaited 2014: she would start high school and begin to drive. But most importantly, she would meet the minimum age requirement to audition to sing on American Idol. Her family members could envision her on the show making her start singing country songs by Jason Aldean or The Band Perry. She practiced for her debut by singing in her school's choir and playing flute in the band.
She was set to enter eighth grade earlier this week at Lakeshore Middle School in Jacksonville, Fla. In previous years she often stayed after school to hold the snakes kept in a science classroom. Though 14, Megan dreamed of growing up and attending school in Georgia to become a veterinarian. She begged her grandmother, who she lived with in Jacksonville, to adopt a stray cat and always wanted to take a baby reptile home with her when she visited alligator farms. Instead, she settled for watching Animal Planet's Gator Boys and Call of the Wildman with her mother. She was a "country kid in the city," her grandmother, Karen Pippin, told MSNBC.
Despite being a teenager, Megan was mindful of spending time with her mother even when she wanted to swim and jet ski in the nearby river with her friends. Her mother decided to donate Megan's organs--excluding her eyes--because her daughter would have been the first to say, "do it."
"At such a tender age, she had such a huge heart," her aunt, Tina Bladen, said to MSNBC. Megan drew pictures of people dying from cigarettes and handed them to her grandmother to influence her decision to stop smoking. "That girl had a backbone, one that I wished I had," Bladen said. "She was a very strong young lady."
Megan was struck by a bullet from a drive-by shooting on Aug. 10 while attending a sleepover in Jacksonville. She died on Aug. 14. Her 13-year-old best friend was also killed in the shooting. No arrests have been made.