Prom is a rite of passage for many high school students.
And this year, a very special group of Ahwatukee Foothills and Tempe students will get to participate in that spring tradition: the special needs students involved in the Best Buddies program.
This is the second year Desert Vista’s Best Buddies club has put on a prom especially for the special needs students in the Tempe Union High School District. And with the prom quickly approaching in mid-April, club members and an area volunteer group are busy raising money and putting those special students in the spotlight.
The first of the prom festivities kicked off over the weekend with a fashion show for Desert Vista students participating in the prom.
Lori Davis, who along with her daughter is involved in the Ahwatukee National Charity League, helped put together the fashion show. The girls in the National Charity League have always had fun getting dressed up and fussed over during fashion shows, Davis said, and she thinks that would be even truer for students who haven’t had the experience before.
“I think they are going to feel so incredibly special,” Davis said. “Even watching them try on their dresses, they’ve been beaming from ear to ear.”
The girls modeled their prom dresses, which were donated by a Cinderella Affair, and a few other spring dresses loaned by private donors.
The boys’ tuxedos were a little trickier to get. Davis put the word out that she was looking for tuxedos, and ended up hearing from a woman who had bid on an abandoned storage unit in Phoenix.
People who bid on such storage units don’t know what’s in them until they win, and this particular unit had 40 tuxedos inside.
Since the donor had no use for 40 tuxedos, she sold them to students for $5 each, Davis said.
The fashion show only involved Desert Vista students this year, but Davis hopes it expands to the rest of the Tempe Union High School District in subsequent years.
There’s one more pre-prom event coming up: a boutique this Saturday to raise money for the dance.
About 20 vendors will sell items, including jewelry, purses and jeans, said Sarah Colone, the National Charity League member coordinating the event. Colone’s son, Chad Pyper, was one of the special students in Desert Vista’s Best Buddies. He passed last year.
Colone was excited to be raising money for this year’s event.
“There are a lot of great kids there who just want to do the things other kids get to do,” Colone said.
The boutique runs from 1 to 6 p.m. April 3 at 11827 S. Montezuma Court, which is a private home. Admission to get in is $5, with all proceeds going to Best Buddies.