Every once in a while, we meet average people who accomplish extraordinary things that renew our hope in humanity.
Even though this Facebook post is a few years old, it never fails to bring tears to my eyes and warmth to my heart – so why not spread it forward?
A father recounts the time his autistic son was asked to marry by a girl who had walked into his office unannounced.
Often times, the goals of children with special needs are no different from those of typically developing children of the same age. Having no one agree to go with you to the school dance can be a devastating blow to your self-esteem when you’re 17 years old.
Even if going alone isn’t a big deal in the larger scheme of things, for a teenager, it can be the equivalent of social disaster, and the inability to find a date can be devastating to their sense of self-worth.
Some youngsters are especially sensitive and lack the tools necessary to fully comprehend their environment; this is especially true of children with specific needs, such as autism.
Mike Larson, the protagonist’s father, wanted to chronicle the events surrounding his autistic son Jon’s senior prom preparations. He eventually posted the entire account to Facebook, where it has already been seen by millions!
“This is my son Jon with his prom date Maddi,” wrote Mike in the caption of his prom photo post. “He is a junior and he has autism. About a month ago, Maddi, a senior, came to my office (I’m a teacher at their school) and asked if Jon’s mom and I would allow her to take him to prom.
Mike continued, “Maddi had gotten to know Jon through a school club that promotes friendships between special needs kids and regular kids.“
“He’s a junior,” she explained “so it’s his prom too. I just think he should have the chance to go.” I told her we would be honored to have him go with her.”
Maddi invited Jon to her senior prom, and she was determined that he would have an unforgettable experience. She conducted her research and discovered that orange is Jon’s favorite color, so she went out and purchased an orange outfit. She also made reservations at a restaurant serving his preferred meal of chicken fingers, French fries, and chocolate milk for their entire party (two couples).
Maddi wanted to make sure she could invite Jon to the dance by checking with his dad first.
“It was a pretty breathtaking moment for me,” Mike Larson told Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Mike claims there were three motivations for his social media prom photo upload.
- “to show support for special kids like Jon.”
- “to show support for groups that promote these friendships.”
- “to remind us all, in a time when we hear about all the terrible things going on, that there are wonderful kids like Maddi working to make other’s lives better.“
Originally published in 2013, Mike Larson’s updates on the couple’s post-prom lives have kept the popular prom photo fresh in people’s minds.
That his message had gone global and been shared a million times was cause for celebration in 2019. Also, he updated everyone on their health status: “Many have asked how Jon is doing. He is well and happy, still living at home.”
As Mike also shared, Maddi is now married but admits to feeling “embarrassed” by the constant media attention she receives. Michael thanked those who had commented on the post by writing, “Thanks to all who have wished them well.”
More than 16 years ago, when Jon was first diagnosed with autism, Jon’s father imagined a number of possible outcomes. He had a number of concerns, one of which being that his autistic kid would never get to attend a prom. But Maddi made it possible for Jon to not only attend prom, but also have a fantastic time.
”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,” Mike 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.”
The fact that there are still kind people in the world gives me hope. If you like this story as much as the father did, please tell your friends and family about it.
I hope they took lots of pictures to commemorate the occasion, because this young lady is incredibly kind to have asked his parents for permission before proceeding.
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