So many high school students look forward to their proms where they will find a special date, wear dazzling dresses and tuxes, and have the time of their lives. But so many students are left out. Sadly, they usually are the ones with special needs.
That’s when the idea for the Memphis Joy Prom came from the Lord and into the hearts of Ashley Parks and Ginna Rauls. The name of the prom had a purpose, "We decided we like 'joy' because that's what we hope to bring," Ashley said.
Ashley is a 20 year veteran of special needs ministries, and she now directs the ministry at her church. Ginna is also passionate and dedicated volunteer of the special needs community. Together, they came up with the idea to throw a prom for over 100 precious people… all with special needs. Local churches, and some 350 volunteers pulled together to make the event a success.
April 25th was prom night, and the attendees enjoyed all the activities that high school students do to prepare for the big night. The attendees were treated like prom kings and queens getting pampered to the nines. They got their hair and makeup done, and shoes shined too.
Ashley said "We didn't miss anything," and they didn’t.
Before the big event even started, each of the attendee’s host was given a little card with their date's allergies and a bucket list of things that they just had to experience before the last dance.
Guests where treat like the stars that they are and arrived in limos. They walked the red carpet with their dates as the announcer for the Memphis Grizzlies basketball team welcomed them.
The night was a blast; they danced, ate tons of sweets, and had the time of their lives. Even a couple with special needs in their 60’s got the chance to live out an experience that they thought was long gone.
"Our whole purpose is to bring glory to God and just love on the special needs community," Parks said. "We wanted to make them feel special. This was their night."
The best part is, next year’s prom is already on the calendar!
When you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed. Although they cannot repay you, you will be repaid at the resurrection of the righteous.