San Diego

Special Needs Students Dance Night Away at ‘Night To Remember' Prom

Friday was a night to remember for hundreds of special needs teens across the county who got to experience prom.

The guests of honor were greeted at the Night to Remember prom by a sea of supporters cheering them on and marveling at their regalia as they strutted down a red carpet.

Donated funds helped all the attendees get to prom with a free ticket, dress or tuxedo, jewelry, and hair and make-up. Professional photos were part of the package deal, too.

And there wasn’t a wallflower to be seen. The dance floor was jam-packed with teens getting footloose with their friends, or with a date, like Justin Walsten.

“Justin is hilarious. He's almost constantly happy, loves chicken nuggets and chicken sandwiches more than anything,” Gabriela Maraziti, a senior at Helix High School, said describing her date.

Justin and Gabriela were just two of the 425 students who attended prom.

Justin will be graduating from Helix High in a month and then going into a transitional program for adults with special needs. But on this night, time stood still. He and his friends were excited about every minute, just enjoying being teenagers.

Justin and his entourage weren’t the only ones leaving prom with a smile. Teachers and volunteers said giving up their Friday night’s so that these kids could have one to remember forever was hardly a chore.

“When everybody kind of pours their love and energy into the students with special needs, everybody benefits," Helix special education teacher Kimberly Fleming said.

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