COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – Dozens danced Saturday night away at the Mount Vernon Church Joy Prom.
This is the sixth year the church has hosted the prom for the special needs community.
A red carpet led prom-goers and their dates to a night full of glitz, glamour, and dancing.
“We try to make it a special night for the special needs community, but especially for their caregivers, as well. To see the joy, to see the laughter, to see the fun that they all get to have and have an event that a lot of times, they would never get to participate in, makes it worth every minute of everything that we do,” says Mt. Vernon Groups and Connection Minister Aimee Bradley.
Bradley says Joy Prom is an opportunity for the church to reach out to the community and to a group that’s often overlooked.
“Part of our big idea that we do here, is we’re all about creating a contagious community of hope. For us, we offer hope tonight, to all of the parents and all of the kids who are here, because for two hours they get to enjoy and have experiences that they would never get to have any other way.”
Over 115 participants from the Golden Triangle, Alabama, and Arkansas came out for the big dance.
High-schoolers from across the area served as their dates.
“We have really been excited about it! She’s been excited about it and it really, really touches my heart for this church to put this on for these children and adults,” says a participant’s mother, Carrie Stephenson.
Mount Vernon Baptist Church has been prepping for Joy Prom since before Christmas, and participants have been planning for their big night for weeks.
“The first dress she tried on, she loved it. Of course, it was my favorite color, so I was thinking, well maybe she just likes it because it’s my favorite color. Well, we tried on ten more dresses and she came back to that first dress and that’s the dress she’s wearing tonight.”
Stephenson says this is her 18-year old daughter’s very first Joy Prom and the excitement leaves her trying to hold back tears.
“I feel like that some of the adults and the children, they feel left out because, you know, they feel like they’re not a part of a prom and for the church to put this on for them, it is just really exciting. I am just overwhelmed. My heart is just really heavy right now.”
Joy Prom is a free event for participants.
Organizers say it’s made possible because of the church and the 100 plus volunteers.