By ALLEY COWGILL
Port Isabel-South Padre Press
Can you imagine what it’s like to hear and understand words but not be able to communicate? What it’s like to be stared at when your 6-foot-2inch 14-year-old child is running up and down the stairs anxious to see the world and all that it beholds? What it’s like to have to explain time after time that your child is disabled, that he is special, and loved and deserves to be happy and understood not simply tolerated?
Stephanie Wilson of Laguna Vista knows what that is like. She lives it everyday and would not change it for the world. Wilson’s son Jason was diagnosed with autism at the age of 4.
Now a happy teen, Jason was invited to attend a prom in Brownsville for disabled youth and adults. After having the time of his life, Wilson became inspired to organize a similar prom in Port Isabel.
“I posted pictures on Facebook which got the attention of his teachers who agreed to help me organize the event. “ She said. “We started organizing in early August, doing fundraisers because we were starting with a zero budget. We are trying to get as many things donated as possible.”
Wilson excitedly reportde that fundraising is going better than expected. “We’ve had a wonderful response from people in our community!” she said.
The event is titled ‘A Night Under The Stars.’
“Sponsors can buy a small, medium or large star and put their name on it and be a part of the decorations so the guests can see everyone that made this event possible” she said.
As soon as I explained that everyone wanted a star and to be a part of the prom. And we are incredibly grateful!”
The community has rallied around Wilson and her cause she explained. “We were only going to rent half of the Event Center in Port Isabel, which would allow 75 guests and 75 chaperones because every guest has to have a chaperone. We were quoted about $700 for half of the room.”
Shortly after word spread about what the event was about Wilson was informed that the City of Port Isabel had decided to help out. “They are donating the entire center for free!” she exclaimed. “Now we can fit about 200 guests and 200 chaperones! I would love to fill the room!” she reported happily.
But increased capacity also means expenses have doubled, however, Wilson was not discouraged, “We can do this!” she said.
Wilson would love to make this event an annual occurrence getting bigger every year.
Wilson explained why this particular event is so important, “ It’s very difficult to take a disabled child out and have them experience new things when the public isn’t as tolerant and doesn’t understand the different disabilities.” She continued, “It’s stressful when you get looks. I want all of these incredibly special, unique individuals to be able to go and not be stared at for being different or be embarrassed for who they are. If they want to run in circles on the dance floor, they can run in circles!”
Wilson remarked, “These individuals may be disabled but they are able!”
A Night Under the Stars will take place on Saturday Sept. 26, at the Port Isabel Event and Cultural Center. There will be no cost for guests. If you would like to donate to this special event, you can do so through a PayPal account at firstname.lastname@example.org or by contacting Stephanie Wilson at (956)433-5041.
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