Diocesan News

Dream Prom for Teens with Autism

Jonathan, who attends The HeartShare School, gave the family-friendly “Dream Prom” a thumbs-up as he stands on the dance floor with his mother, Marie.
Jonathan, who attends The HeartShare School, gave the family-friendly “Dream Prom” a thumbs-up as he stands on the dance floor with his mother, Marie.

Prom night is a once-in-a-lifetime event, and it was an incredible evening for teens from The HeartShare School and HeartShare Respite/Recreation Program, who attended their “Dream Prom” at Sirico’s Catering Hall in Dyker Heights on June 24. Young men and women from AHRC also joined in the festivities.
“I am grateful to the 86th Street Club Kiwanians for generously hosting this event,” said Carol Verdi, HeartShare’s vice president of education services, and a Kiwanian for nearly 20 years. “This is the first time that young people at HeartShare were offered the opportunity to gather together for such an event. For teens with autism, it’s not just about having a good time, but also providing a unique setting to socialize and bond with one another.”
The “Dream Prom” idea arose from a conversation between Joseph Aiello, New York District Governor of Kiwanis International, who recently received HeartShare’s inaugural Children’s Champion Award, and Lenny Gioia, member of the 86th Street Kiwanis Club, about HeartShare’s service to children with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Family Friendly Event
The event was family-friendly with parents in attendance. Everyone enjoyed a buffet dinner and dessert. The young men and women were eager for the camera, taking photos with Miss Cosmopolitan 2014, Christina Moore, who greeted the teens wearing her pageant gown and crown. A photo booth offered playful posing with friends donning feather boas, oversized sunglasses and top hats.
“The overwhelming generosity of our members and the community made this event possible,” said Steve Spinelli, 86th Street Kiwanis Club president. “The kids are very appreciative and we’re honored to be hosting them and their families tonight.”
In addition to the boutonnières and corsages, members of the 86th Street Kiwanis donated dresses for the young women.
About 20 Key Club members from John Dewey H.S., Bensonhurst, and others volunteered at the event.
“I was a former Key Club member at John Dewey and returned to give back to the community,” said Tina Lee, a rising sophomore at SUNY Binghamton.
“The HeartShare teens deserve all the attention and care in the world, especially tonight,” said Steve DiGidio, who helped donate the limousine that the teens used for photos and is the father of HeartShare teaching assistant Amanda DiGidio.

 
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