PENDER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - Students at Heide Trask High School spent several months planning for a prom, but it wasn't for them, it was for special needs children in the area.
The Trask students did everything from decorate, to put on a drama production, to help pass out the food and even DJ the music. The prom was made possible by a $1,200 Bright Ideas grant and many donations from the community.
Parents say the event meant more to their children than anyone could possibly imagine.
"She was just free and able to be herself, nobody was pointing fingers at her or making fun of her," said Angela Perry, the mother of 11-year-old Madison. Madison is like most kids her age, she loves to dance and paint her toes, but living her life with Down Syndrome makes things difficult.
"Excruciatingly hard sometimes," said Perry. "She is not included in things her friends do, she's not invited to homes or parties." But all that was soon forgotten, with each foot Madison kicked and hand she clapped on Thursday afternoon.
"I couldn't hold myself together, because it's so nice for someone to think of the kids because sometimes they get mistreated," said Ywkisha Walker, the mom of 6-year-old, Jonah. Jonah is autistic, and like Madison, his mom says he is sometimes left out.
"It feels like no one else understands unless they are in my shoes or his," said Walker. That's why she says it meant so much, to watch Jonah swaying to the music with other kids facing similar challenges.
"I'm just so happy for him," said Walker.