Local organizes prom for children with special needs

Published 1:43 pm Wednesday, May 3, 2017


A local parent has organized a prom for children with special needs at Jemison City Hall on May 6 from 6-9 p.m.

Erica Jones had the idea for her son, Jacob, when he was diagnosed with Tay-Sachs disease, a rare disorder that destroys nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord.

“We wanted to give him every life experience ever. We knew he wouldn’t be able to walk down the aisle and that he wouldn’t see his graduation. There was one thing I could give him, and that was hopefully a prom,” Jones said.

Jones spread the word about her idea, and she and her family got together to plan a prom for her son and other children with special needs.

Unfortunately, Jones’ son was hospitalized just before the prom. His condition worsened, and he died a few days before he was able to attend the prom. His family was able to decorate his room and give him a special experience at the hospital.

When they found out, the other parents involved in the prom told Jones they could cancel the event, but she insisted that the prom be held for the other children to enjoy and to honor his memory.

“It was completely up to me if we wanted to cancel, but I told them no. The reason we started was because of Jacob. With his disease, we always lived life to the fullest. With children with any special needs, you never know what tomorrow’s going to hold,” Jones said. “We didn’t want to take [the prom] away from the children … For any parent, you want to make sure your children have good opportunities.”

This year, the prom’s theme is superheroes. There will be popular heroes in costume at the event to interact with the children.

“This is my way to keep his memory alive. Jacob loved bright colors. This year everything is going to be bright and colorful, representing him,” Jones said. “It’s all about the kids. We’re really excited, and we’ve worked really, really hard all year.”

There will be food and drinks, goodie bags, a lead-out, a DJ, a mother-son dance and a father-daughter dance.

The event was made possible by community support, volunteers and sponsors, according to Jones. She said sponsors are encouraged to stop by and see what their generosity supported.

If families are interested in attending with their children with special needs, Jones said they are welcome to come to the free event.