A balloon release Thursday morning over the town of Manor was done in the memory of Lance Thomas.
His family fought back tears as the balloons floated above Manor Excel Academy, the school he once attended. "I'm sad because today is the day he left us a year ago, but proud that he made such a name for himself,” said Thomas’ mother Christina Butler.
17 year old Lance Thomas was killed in a car wreck on Highway 290 November 3rd, 2015.
He was such a popular student, a memorial service was held in the football stadium he once played in. Now, a year later, Thomas has not been forgotten, during the ceremony Thursday, several classmates wore red shirts with his image on them.
The show of support for her son overwhelmed Butler. "I really, really do appreciate it. To me, it’s a proud mama moment, he touched a lot of people, and it’s very noticeable,” said Butler.
The car crash last year not only took his life it also stole a special moment Thomas's family was looking forward to. That moment, which was his high school graduation, became a reality. With a cap and gown placed on a front row chair, Thomas’ diploma was presented to his mother by Principal Dayna Anthony-Swain and District Superintendent Royce Avery.
"I want it to represent success, I want it to represent closure, I want it to represent love,” said Swain.
The diploma, according to Thomas' mother, is much more than a piece of paper.
"So he made me a promise that he would graduate. He would get his diploma and he would walk across that stage, and he'd get me that goofy cap and gown picture, I won’t get all of that but I got this, he kept his promise to me."
In 2015, Lance Thomas was one of 102 traffic deaths in Austin.
So far in 2016, 60 people have died on Austin roadways.