When Chrissy Gordon turned around and saw her reflection in the mirror, pretty as can be in a floor length black gown, she beamed.
Chrissy, who is 17 and has Angelman syndrome, a rare neuro-genetic disorder, is non-verbal, but there was no question about how she felt wearing the dress for an upcoming prom.
“She knew that it was a special moment, and when she saw herself, she was happy,” said her mom, Eartha Gordon of Alpharetta.
Gordon said she’s been wanting to make sure her daughter attended a prom while in high school, and when one of Chrissy’s teachers mentioned a prom for special needs teens and adults at the Country Club of the South in Johns Creek, Gordon knew this would be the perfect one.
The event, entitled, “Celebrate Beautiful You,” A Prom Spectacular for the Exceptionals,” will feature a sit-down dinner, live music, dancing under a disco ball and photo booth with props. Brooke Adee, a top 20 finalist in The Voice' Season 8, is also scheduled to perform.
The event is open to anyone with special needs who is at least 14 years old. The only cost to attend the dance is a minimal $10 registration fee.
The deadline to register is Friday. For more information and to register go to www.XenaTheWarriorPuppy.com.
One of the event sponsors, Lavender Salon & Shoppe in Johns Creek, is even providing free hair-dos and make-up (with advance reservations) for attendees.
“My hope is that our special needs community will feel a little more beautiful and this will empower them and they will have a great time with friends,” said Linda Hickey, founder of the Jonny & Xena's Spread the Words Foundation, an all-volunteer run non-profit, based in Johns Creek.
“We all have memories from the prom and we want them to have these as well.”
An organization of less than two years, this is the organization’s first-ever special needs prom.
A 5K last October raised more than $30,000 to help cover the costs of the event. Several businesses also generously donated resources for this event including the following: Julie Allen Bridals in Newtown,Conn donated 50 tuxedos, white shirts, tuxedo shoes and 30 gowns. Brookfield Cleaners & Tailors & Menswear in Brookfield, Conn. donated 60 tuxedos, vests, bow ties, and ties. Bloomin' Balloons in Alpharetta is donating balloons and red carpet. An out of town resident signed up to register for the event to donate $500.
“I cry all the time thinking about how the community has been so generous,” she said.
The inspiration for Xena's Spread the Words Foundation goes back to 2013. It all started with Jonny Hickey, a young boy diagnosed with autism who lead an extremely quiet life with little outside interaction.
And then, Jonny created an unbreakable bond with a puppy who had a story of her own. (Xena was a puppy brought into Dekalb County Animal Services weighing only four pounds and was clinging to life. Her story was put on social media and as she was being nursed back to health, her fans dubbed her Xena the Warrior Puppy. Soon after, the Hickeys adopted her through Friends of DeKalb).
Instantly, Jonny transformed.
The story inspired the Jonny and Xena's Spread the Words Foundation to help support animals in need and to shine a light on autism.
- Devika Rao contributed to this article.
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