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Having a Ball

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It’s that time of year again when most high school students are focused on fun in the name of proms, picnics, and beach weeks. Three years ago Helen McCormick, a former teacher from Arkansas, decided it was time for students with disabilities to have their own party and so she organized the Cinderella Ball at her northern Virginia youth center. This year when McCormick began knocking on doors for donations, she traveled to Washington, D.C.’s Willard InterContinental Hotel to ask for left-over decorations, including “almost-dead flowers.” Instead, they offered her their ballroom, according to the Washington Post.

After months of going door-to-door and collecting change outside convenience stores, the students and McCormick raised almost $100,000 for the event. On Saturday night, 100 students entered the storied hotel, just a stone’s throw from the White House. under an arch of swords held by the U.S. Marines in full uniform. Dressed in clothing and jewelry donated for the event, students spun in their wheel chairs and shed their shoes and their insecurities on the dance floor while “American Idol” winner Ruben Studdard sang. When 14-year-old Caleigh announced, “We’re going to close the house down,” her father agreed, “That’s right. We are shutting it down.”

3 Comments

Finally some good news! I work at a school specifically for severe/profound students. Every year we throw a huge prom during school hours so all students can attend. Teachers donate dresses and a local church provides the venue and refreshments. Teens from the church's youth group attend the prom and dance with our students. It is nothing short of beautiful! Bravo on a fantastic job Helen!

You Go Girl............that was not
just about a dance it was speaking
loudly to the world that people with
disabilities are valuable and count
also. Good Memories for all including
you. REFRESHING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I was fortunate enough to volunteer at the Ball, so saw it first-hand. It was amazing! The students had a great time, and nothing stood in their way. Even Kyle Maynard, born without the lower bones of his arms and legs, was down on the floor dancing with a seventh grader confined to her wheelchair because of spina bifida. It was their night! Helen McCormick orchestrated the evening's events, so all blended smoothly and at a good pace for short attention spans. Students from The House, her after school program, acted as hosts and hostesses for their special guests. How poised they were. Helen involved the entire community to get donations of all kinds and it heightened their awareness of disabled students and their dedicated parents...oh, yes, I was impressed with parents' appreciation for the Ball. One mom got a new dress, because she said she never gets to social events. The hotel setting was luxurious and perfect for the evening. What a night!!

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  • Dotty Dippel: I was fortunate enough to volunteer at the Ball, so read more
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