Prom for special-needs students a success

May. 03, 2014 @ 11:32 PM

Last weekend, Jordan Jeffers had what she called the best night of her life. She spent three years organizing Saturday's prom for special needs students at Sevier County schools — an event called One Special Night — and even with the built-up anticipation, it still exceeded her expectations.

"It was fantastic; I couldn't have asked for a better night," Jeffers, a 16-year-old junior at Sevier County High School, said. "All the kids were so happy, and everything was so perfect. Not one thing went wrong. It was just awesome."

The idea came about as Jeffers, pursuing a Girl Scouts Gold Award, considered ways to make positive change in the community. Her mother, Jennifer Jeffers, is a special needs teacher in the county.

Jordan greeted prom participants by name as they arrived at First United Methodist Church in Sevierville, while volunteers worked in other areas. Girls arrived early for makeovers, and boys arrived as the makeovers were being finished. As part of the preparation, Jordan collected dresses for girls and formal attire for boys.

In the dance hall, complete with a DJ and lights, attendees received corsages and boutonnières. Formal pictures were taken, and then revelers hit the dance floor.

"You cannot imagine the excitement in the room," Jennifer Jeffers said. "On at least six occasions, parents were crying during the event. One parent brought a thank you gift for Jordan. As she handed Jordan the flowers, balloons and bear, she couldn't speak. Her emotion had taken over, and she was sobbing.

"Finally she gained composure and said this to Jordan: 'You will never understand how wonderful it is and what an impact that you have had. Even though my daughter doesn't have the words to tell you, she feels so amazing about herself. You gave this to her. Thank you.'"

Jordan said the parents' feedback was one of many highlights. "When parents find out their child has special needs, they think they'll never see their daughter or son's first date, first kiss, wedding, and they never dreamed they would see them go to a prom," she said. "That's really cool that they got to experience that."

Jordan said she is already planning to make the special needs prom an annual event. "We're going to try to put together a volunteer group of people in the community who would like to help," she said. "So far we've gotten a pretty good response. A lot of people have already offered to donate."

People interested in donating, volunteering or learning more about the event, should email Jordan Jeffers, jordanjeffers97@gmail.com.

jold@themountainpress.com