April 30, 2014 - Pure joy.
Oxford LOFT students Alicia Harrell and Greg Bette share a sweet moment during their dance at the prom. Photo by C.J. Carrnachio. (click for larger version)
That's the most accurate way to describe the prom held for Oxford's special education students and members of the LOFT program Saturday evening at Merge Studio and Gallery located at 33 Pleasant St.
Approximately 40 young people with various mental and physical disabilities, including some from Lake Orion High School, came together to dine and dance the night away in a comfortable atmosphere free of judgment and filled with understanding, acceptance and love.
Organized by Oxford High School seniors Hope McColl and Megan Kerin, the event gave these young people something they've never had before – a prom of their own.
And boy, did they take advantage of it. They danced long and hard with big smiles on their faces the whole time.
There wasn't a trace of fear or inhibition as the prom-goers reveled in the freedom to be exactly who they are and just have fun.
"Honestly, I feel like this is the most fun I've ever had," McColl said. "I wish the (OHS) prom was like this."
McColl said the event turned out "100 times better than we expected."
"It was awesome," she said. "I just want to say thank you to all the people that donated (items, services and money for the prom) because obviously, this couldn't have happened without them."
One of those people was Lakeville Elementary fifth-grader Emma Crampton, who raised more than $150 for the prom.
"I couldn't be more happy," Kerin said. "I enjoyed it way more than the prom I went to last year."
All the hard work and frustration that went into planning this prom was "all worth it," according to Kerin, after seeing "these kids enjoy it and be so happy."
"We didn't expect this many kids and we are so pleased with the turnout."
Kerin also wished to thank everyone who contributed to the event. "We couldn't have done it without you," she said.
CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.