Last year on March 8, a very special event took place on campus. It was a prom for individuals with disabilities, and the turnout was spectacular for the first year. There were games, a photo booth, and of course, dancing. Everyone who attended had a fabulous time and were very grateful for the opportunity to experience a prom. This experience was possible thanks to an honors group who put it all together.
Juniors Patrick Costello, Rachel Prendergast, Noah Schoaf, Alex Schiavoni, Ian Lenke and Ashley Holtz received their honors project last year and got right to work. Their project was to hold a formal dance for those with disabilities in the Dubuque community, and each member had a different reason why they wanted to participate in this project.
“I have a family member who has special needs,” Costello said about his personal reason for working on this prom. “I have experienced first-hand the impact music and dancing can have on her and how much she looks forward to the dances. Her ‘work’ that is funded by the State of Illinois holds dances similar to the one we put on for those in Dubuque. Seeing the same joy in the eyes of others means the world to me, knowing that we can give them an opportunity they otherwise would not have.”
Last year was a huge success. Everyone who attended the dance was provided with a dress or a shirt and tie if they needed it. The group also created a partnership with a local beauty salon in order to get the ladies’ hair done at a discounted rate.
This year, the dance is taking place on April 11 in the ballrooms. Some additions to last year’s prom will be providing guests with a meal as well as a corsage or boutonniere. Despite having one year under their belts, the group is still facing obstacles such as fundraising for the dance and setting up community partners who would be willing to donate the flowers and meal for the evening. But despite these uncertainties, the group has already done work unparalleled by their peers in the honors program. While most groups take a couple years to make significant progress on their projects, this group started out strong and will be able to put on three proms by the time they graduate. They are truly making a difference in people’s lives, one formal dance at a time.