The dream of a perfect prom night is just as important to a teenager with special needs than it is to any other teenager. Which is exactly the message that senior Bailey Geehring was trying to get across to her classmates.
Bailey said she felt that students with special needs “are capable of doing everything that other high school students are participating in, prom being no exception.” Because of this mentality and a caring heart, Bailey decided to ask sophomore Garrett Ansell to the prom.
“I see many similarities between Garrett and my brother,” said Geehring. “I want the best for my brother just as I want the best for Garrett.”
Geehring has an older brother with a form of autism, and he is the inspiration for everything she does. This fall she will be attending California University of Pennsylvania on a full scholarship to study speech therapy. Her brother’s inspiration, combined with her caring personality, has given her the urge to help people. She believes this career path will allow her to do just that.
“I don’t see it very often, but I do know that bullying is real and it happens at our high school,” Geehring said. “I know that Garrett struggles in school and because of this, and if he were to take anything good from high school, I wanted to give him an experience he wouldn’t forget.”
Believing Garrett deserved the same opportunity as his classmates, Geehring formed the idea of taking him to prom months in advance. She talked to Mrs. Farrell, Garrett’s special education teacher, and got his mother’s phone number to get her approval. Once it was planned out by both her parents and his, she asked Ansell to the prom. Geehring called his reaction was “priceless.”
“We didn’t want to tell him too early because then he wouldn’t be able to focus on school work,” Geehring said. “He was so excited that he didn’t sleep the night before prom”.
Ansell and his mother went to The Hub in Mt. Pleasant, a tuxedo shop that Geehring’s family recommended. Geehring said that her brother got all his tuxedos there, and the owner was “wonderful with kids with special needs.”
After arriving at prom, Ansell couldn’t contain his excitement.
“He only took like five bites of his food, and he kept asking me ‘What time can we start dancing?’ and I would reassure him that it would start soon,” Geehring said.
When the music started playing and people started to get up and dance, Ansell’s face “lit up.” He got out of his chair and ran to the dance floor before Geehring could catch up. As soon as he got to the dance floor he started dancing, and everyone surrounded him to cheer him on.
“Teachers have asked me, ‘I know he had fun, but did you?’ ” Geehring said. “I want everyone to know that I wouldn’t have wanted to have her senior prom go any other way.”
If asked by anyone else, Geehring said she would’ve turned them down for Garrett. “Him having fun, seeing him happy made me happy,” said Geehring. “I wouldn’t have had as much fun with anyone else” They agreed to go next year, Geehring said.
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