A Night in Hollywood Special Needs Prom

· inclusion,recreation,event,dance

Once upon a time in a land not so far away, Frisco SAGE helped make dreams come true.  But we are getting ahead of ourselves as we were just the helpers in a much larger dream.....

Grace Jensen was a senior at Reedy High School in 2019 and had dreamed of hosting a sensory-friendly prom for students with special needs, many of whom find regular school dances and social events  to be overwhelming.  Grace had been part of Best Buddies and Partners PE programs in the district throughout middle school and high school. 

Working with students with disabilities comes naturally for Grace as she has a sister with Down Syndrome.  She even taught a social skills class at a local Lego-based business called BrickLab, and volunteered with SibShops and Teen Squad, a social skills group for teens with high functioning autism.  

The board members of Frisco SAGE, each of whom have a child with a disability, know Grace from her many hours of volunteering, often with their own children.  Her giving spirit and selflessness is inspiring.  They wanted to raise the funds to help defray the cost of hosting the event and make it a reality for her senior year. But how could a newly independent nonprofit possibly raise the funds for such an event?

Enter Jason Young, owner of local venue Verona Villa.  Jason was the catalyst that challenged the board of Frisco SAGE to reach out to the community and make it happen.  He offered to share the story and fundraising link with his own contacts as well.  He ensured the board that the Frisco community would help make it happen and reserved a date at his venue In good faith that it would all come together.  He shared the following message to the community:  

Having a big building in the middle of the fastest growing city in the USA, I am exposed to a myriad of needs and causes in our community as well as inspired by the people that are passionate to serve others.  

This week, I had the privilege of meeting a Frisco ISD high school senior named Grace Jensen, pictured below with her sister.  Grace is a remarkable young woman who works tirelessly to support others with special needs, such as her sister with Downs syndrome.   She volunteers in programs including Best Buddies and Partners PE through school, as well as teaches social skills at brickLAB, Inc

Grace had a vision to create a sensory-friendly prom for FISD special needs students and their buddies to celebrate in a comfortable environment.  While the high schools have completely inclusive proms (FISD is world class and we love supporting), this would give Grace and other supporters like her the opportunity to experience their prom as well as an opportunity to celebrate with the buddies they love and support. 

Learning of Grace’s vision and consistent dedication, Christy and I immediately wanted to support her make this a reality.  We are making Verona Villa available on Thursday May 23, 2019 to be the site of this fun, but there are other hard costs including food, entertainment and decor for these 250 students.   

I am so inspired by this young leader’s heart and passion for others.   Grace is headed to the University of Arkansas next year and I am looking to leaders like her as examples for our almost 5 year old daughter Cambria and the future generation.   I want to encourage Grace and influence others.   It would be amazing if as a community we could take the financial burden off of the families that support these beautiful kids every day for them to enjoy a night of fun without having to buy a ticket.  

So, for Grace, for these children and for the families that love and care for them, I am asking our community to participate in a GoFundMe campaign to make this prom a reality (link below).  FriscoSage is a non-profit started by Frisco parents of children with special needs and they are handling all of the donations directly.   My team will do our best to bring together vendors and experts to make this a night to remember and perhaps turn this into an annual opportunity.  

Thanks for reading and I am hopeful that our amazing community will step up like it always does for these special kids and their families.  And Grace, keep rocking sister - you inspire me. 

The community came together, including a local church, to help make the event a reality.  So on May 23, 2019, the first ever Frisco SAGE Prom became a reality!  Please make sure to visit our photo gallery for the rest of the story.  If a picture says a thousand words, you will no doubt need no further happily ever than the one you see there!