This inspiring event will give Butler County special needs students ‘an awesome evening’

Published: Friday, March 15, 2019 @ 5:00 AM


            Berachah Church in Middletown hosted a pre-prom party for special needs students last year. This year the church has expanded the activities and invited special needs students from neighboring districts from 6-9 p.m. Friday.
Berachah Church in Middletown hosted a pre-prom party for special needs students last year. This year the church has expanded the activities and invited special needs students from neighboring districts from 6-9 p.m. Friday.

A “great community team” of volunteers is planning a prom for people with disabilities.

One of the organizers, Maryanne Ferrell, said up to 100 special needs students, from high school freshmen to 25-year-olds, are expected to attend “One Special Night” tonight at Berachah Church, 1900 Johns Road, Middletown.

Last year, the church hosted a pre-prom party for Middletown High School students, then transported them to Verity Lodge. Ferrell said last year gave organizers “a little taste” of the prom experience.

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So this year the activities have been expanded to include dinner, dancing, and games, and the event has been opened to special needs students from area school districts. Students from Middletown, Hamilton, Monroe, Madison, Edgewood, Carlisle, Franklin, Valley View and Springboro are expected to attend the free event that runs from 6-9 p.m., Ferrell said.

Attendees will receive free hair styles from volunteers from Salon Halo & Spa, and if needed, prom dresses and dress shirts and ties that have been donated. At 6 p.m., the students will enter the church’s gateway by walking a red carpet and every student will receive a tiara or crown.

The goal, she said, is to duplicate the prom experience.

“An awesome evening” is how Ferrell described the event.

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Ferrell said the public is invited to view the red carpet walk and crowning, but only pre-approved volunteers and “buddies” are permitted to attend the dance. Parents of special needs students are allowed to stay and they will be served dinner and “pampered with special things,” Ferrell said.

During dinner entertainment will be provided by the Middletown High School jazz band and Elijah Smoot, director of worship and student ministries at Berachah, will serve as disc jockey during the dance. Ferrell said the church’s sanctuary will be converted into a dance floor.

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This year’s theme is “This Is Me” from the popular movie, “The Greatest Showman.”

Ferrell said area businesses have donated about $5,000.

“The community has embraced us,” she said.

Two local standout professional athletes are serving as ambassadors for the event. Middletown’s Kyle Schwarber, in his fifth season with the Chicago Cubs, and Franklin’s Luke Kennard, a second-year player for the Detroit Pistons, have sent in video messages that will be played.

The plan, Ferrell said, is to make this an annual event.

“If not for this,” she said, “some kids would be left sitting at home on prom night. They just want to feel like everyone else. Everyone wants to go to prom.”

Ferrell said Tim Tebow’s Foundation supports “Night to Shine,” but there were no events in the Middletown area. “Night to Shine” celebrated its 5th anniversary last month, and on one night, 655 churches from around the world hosted 100,000 special needs students through the work of 200,000 volunteers, according to the foundation’s web site.