Special Friends Prom invites area special needs students

Kamryn Wright and Josh Orrill at last year s Special Friends Prom at Stillwater Church. The prom is Feb. 8 and open to all special needs students. CONTRIBUTED.

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Kamryn Wright and Josh Orrill at last year s Special Friends Prom at Stillwater Church. The prom is Feb. 8 and open to all special needs students. CONTRIBUTED.

There is a very special event coming up for some very special students. Often relegated to being observers of fun, special events, any area young person aged 15 to 23 with a special need is invited to be a participant at the third annual Special Friends Prom hosted by Stillwater United Methodist Church in Dayton.

This year’s prom will feature a Wild West theme, but prom-goers are encouraged to wear their favorite prom attire.

Heidi Williams, a past prom chairman who now lives in Mason, said the first prom, approximately 30 students attended four years ago.

“The next year we doubled that number,” she said. And this year, they’re expecting even more students.” One standout about the Special Friends Prom is that it is entirely supported by the community. “We don’t get grant money like schools do, it’s entirely paid for by our community businesses.”

“We’ve received a phenomenal amount of donations from all around the community,” she said. This is the fourth year Willie Williams will DJ the event. “He donates his time and the kids love him. He does a lot of interacting dancing with the teens and teaches them steps to the music.”

Rob’s Restaurant in Brookville has graciously agreed to supply much of the food available at this year’s prom. And Tony’s Italian Restaurant, Buffalo Wild Wings and JD custard have also stepped up in donating food. Pinned Up Salon is donating hair and makeup services and girls need to be at the church by 5:30 to partake in this activity.

Another popular highlight is the photo booth which will be there for student to capture some memories of this special evening. There will also be a formal photographer on hand to photograph students with their families. Students’ families and parents are welcome to attend.

“We have a lounge area available is they just want to be nearby,” said Williams. “But some parents take advantage of this time to get away, maybe have a date, knowing their child is in a safe space having fun.”

All students are given wrist bands with any important contact and medical information. Students have the option of being connected with a friend for the evening. The volunteers have been trained about things like helping a student in a wheelchair or on a walker have fun on the dance floor. “

Our focus is a fun night for all prom goers for all levels of challenges,” said Williams.

Four years ago, officials at Stillwater Church realized there was an untapped segment of their congregation needing extra care and attention. Several church members who are therapists and educators began a Special Friends ministry which ensures all families feel welcomed, loved and supported in a safe and supportive environment for special needs children and their families.

The Special Friends Prom is open to any area student with special needs. Students must register at prom@stillwaterumc.org


How To Go

What: Special Friends Prom

When: 7 to 10 p.m., Friday, Feb. 8

Where: Stillwater United Methodist Church, 6911 Frederick Pike, Dayton

Why: Prom and all the fun for special needs students ages 15 – 23 years

Must RSVP prom@stillwaterumc.org

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