Teenagers and adults received star treatment on Saturday night as they arrived at Capital Christian High School to celebrate their prom.
Crowds were clapping and cameras were clicking as limousines, police cars and a Volkswagon bug crowned with a giant tiara pulled up and stopped in front of the Performing Arts Center. Prom attendees clad in tuxedos and evening dresses exited the vehicles before making their way along a red carpet into the event.
But this wasn't any prom.
Dubbed an “Evening of Dreams,” the event was put together by volunteers and officials at Capital Christian Center as a way to provide developmentally disabled teenagers and adults with the chance to experience prom.
"It started with our Special Needs Ministry," said event director Michelle Purcell, who said the occasion took months of planning. "We start in August and we get a theme ready and we don't stop until now."
This year, 166 special needs guests along with 166 dates attended the event. More than 400 volunteers and 33 area schools also participated.
Attendees were treated to stage performances and served a bevy of menu options for dinner, including sirloin burgers and french fries, chicken salad, rib-eye steak sandwiches, pulled barbecue pork, lemonade and dessert.
And what's a prom without a king and queen? Event organizers crowned two lucky participants, with Justyn Noble and Mary Rose Engelhardt named as "Evening of Dreams" royalty.
Rick Cole, pastor at Capital Christian Center, said volunteers worked hard to create a memorable experience for participants. He applauded students from local high schools who had signed up to be dates for the special needs teenagers.
"It's become a real community-wide effort," said Cole. "It's just amazing to see what happens in the lives of the kids and families."
Sponsors from the community also contributed financially, donating items and goods, while parents chipped in $50 to help with event costs.
For those parents who brought their prom participants, many stayed and watched the event unfold.
"It's a social opportunity for them to practice," said Mary Barr, a parent from Davis. "This is fantastic."