Eighty years ago, Helen Danis couldn’t afford to attend her high school’s senior prom.
“I couldn’t keep up with the kids,” Danis told CNN affiliate WJAR. “I didn’t really fit in. We were in the middle of a depression and money was scarce.”
But her granddaughter Julie Huddon has been helping her grandmother check things off her bucket list.
She got permission from Pilgrim High School, in Warwick, Rhode Island, where she asked the principal to have her 97-year-old grandmother attend the prom as her date last Friday.
Danis was thrilled.
“We’ve been doing a lot of things that she has said she wanted to do,” Huddon told WJAR. “She sat on Santa’s lap for the first time in December. I never know about her, she’s full of surprises.”
Huddon even gave her grandmother a promposal.
“I got a crown for her and wrote her a note, asking her to be my date to prom,” Huddon said.
— Sam Read (@NBC10_Sam) May 25, 2019
Danis danced the night away doing the Hully Gully (that’s a line dance from The Sixties), the Cupid Shuffle and the Cha-Cha Slide.
Autistic Boy Lost All Hope of Going to Prom Until This Girl Sat With Him at Lunch
When your child is diagnosed with autism, it can often mean the loss of many dreams you have for them, such as getting married, obtaining a university degree, or having grandchildren. Even going to their high school prom might seem out of reach. One special friend was about to make that dream a reality, though.
Jon Larson is autistic; he is able to speak but doesn’t hold down a conversation. Back in 2013, he was at Clear Lake High in northwestern Wisconsin, where Maddi Colbeth became friends with him through a program that encourages non-disabled students to befriend disabled ones.
How is it possible my baby boy is 20 today? Jon, I love you so.
After she noticed Jon, 19 at the time, sitting alone eating his lunch, she offered to sit with him, and their friendship blossomed.
“He likes someone who will sit and talk to him and have the patience,” she said, reports TMJ4. “He’s a calm guy and he’s nice. He’s funny.”
That’s when Maddi came up with the idea of inviting Jon to partner her to the prom.
“It was his junior prom and I felt that I went last year and I was on prom court and I got the chance to experience it and it was really fun,” said Maddi. “I knew he wouldn’t have gotten the chance if it wasn’t for me asking him, so I thought he deserved the chance to go. I thought he would enjoy that.”
Maddi checked with Jon’s father, Mike Larson, a teacher at the school, first.
“It was a pretty breathtaking moment for me,” said Larson, whose other son is also autistic.
“Maddi, we would be honored to have you take Jon,” he added emotionally.
The big day arrived, and Maddi had been reinforcing the idea with Jon constantly, hoping he was able to understand what was going to happen.
His parents bought him a suit, together with a shirt in his favorite color orange, and a tie, while Maddi found an orange dress just right for the occasion.
Maddi also made a booking at a restaurant to have supper on prom night with another couple, where they served Jon’s favorite meal—chicken and french fries.
It was two proud parents who watched their son walk side by side with Maddi, and Larson shared the moment on Facebook, where it garnered half a million likes and 200,000 shares.
"This is my son Jon with his prom date Maddie. He is a junior and he has autism. About a month ago, Maddie, a senior,…
“It’s something I never thought would happen for our family, and not only did it happen, but it’s happened in such a beautiful way,” Larson said.
“And to have it go on and bless the lives of other people is beyond anything I ever could have hoped for. It will be one of the nicest memories of our lives.”
Epoch Times reporter Chris Ford contributed to this report.