A Wisconsin church plans to create an unforgettable night for special needs students by hosting individuals with Down Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy and Autism as honored guests at a prom next month.
Great Lakes Church says the event's concept is compassionately simple. Students are pampered and paired with a high school student who acts as their host for the night while keeping them company and providing assistance if needed.
"The goal for this free event is to celebrate our honored guests, who sometimes feel marginalized, while throwing a party that will become the highlight of their life," according to a statement released by the church.
The prom, dubbed "A Night to Remember" will feature dancing and entertainment, and organizers plan to offer hair and makeup service, photographers, limousine rides and a red carpet entrance. In addition, Great Lakes Church has sponsors who will provide formal wear, free of charge for the attendees.
Although the prom is free for special needs students, the entire event cost between $15,000 and $20,000, all of which has been collected through donations. Great Lakes Church's effort to celebrate the special needs community takes after Heartland Community Church in Rockford, Ill., a congregation that has hosted a similar prom for the last eight years.
"There has been a couple of other organizations around the country who have done this very well but after doing some research we noticed that no one in the southeastern Wisconsin area has done anything like this so we thought, 'well why not model what they've done and bring it to our area and give our individuals a chance to do this,'" pastor Jeremy Moore, told The Morning Blend.
In a similar effort, a Kentucky megachurch hosted a "Jesus Prom" for mentally and physically disabled young adults late last year where nearly 1,000 came out for a night of compassion and partying. Since 2000, the event has spread to other states, including Virginia, California, Colorado and North Carolina.
"Everything we're doing, we just want to honor our guests, love and celebrate them…,"said Angela Taffa, leader of the children's ministry at Great Lakes.
Great Lakes Church is a non-denominational church with campuses spread throughout Wisconsin.The prom will be hosted by the Racine, Wis. campus on Sunday, May 18. For more information, visit Greatlakeschurch.com