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Making Dreams Come True — Saturday’s “Party Before TheParty” Sets The Stage for Joy Prom

Ronnie and Anne Margaret Wright have been diligent for the last
decade to coordinate Joy Prom and help make dreams come true
for a special population in and around the High Country. Photo by
Sherrie Norris.
Bobby and Thomas are assisted by volunteers, McKinsey and Midge, at the accessories table. Photo by Sherrie Norris.

The atrium of Alliance Bible Fellowship in Boone was transformed into a dress shop, of sorts, for about three hours on Saturday, April 15, as dozens of individuals were invited to shop for formal wear and accessories — free of charge — for their upcoming Joy Prom.

With the main event still a week away, the excitement of those looking for the perfect dress/shirt/suit and accessories was a sight to behold.

“I love it,” said an anxious Sara Ackerman as she pulled the first pink dress she saw from the rack of several hundred that had been donated for the event.

“I want something red,” Bobby said as he was assisted in the men’s section. And sure enough, he found just the shirt he was hoping for and eagerly moved to another area for the perfect matching tie. Sara and Bobby were just two of many happy guests participating in the mid-day dress-fitting event, or what has become known as the “Party Before the Party.”

Dozens of party dresses, shoes, ties, shirts, suits and more are
donated each year by the community to help make Joy Prom a
festive affair. Photo by Sherrie Norris

According to husband and wife team, Ronnie and Anne Margaret Wright, who have coordinated the local Joy Prom since its inception, this shopping event sets the stage for the annual Joy Prom, coming up on Saturday, April 22, in the church gymnasium. Hosted by Alliance Bible Fellowship, Joy Prom is one of the most unique events to take place in the High Country area each year.

Helping out at the accessories table, McKinsey Walter is one of the many volunteers who help make Joy Prom a special time to remember. Photo by Sherrie Norris.

Designed for teenagers and adults with special needs —whether medical, intellectual and/or developmental — Joy Prom is celebrating its 10 th anniversary in Boone this year. And what a fun
ride it’s been, the Wrights said.

“This is such a special time for us all,” said Anne Margaret. “The official purpose for the dress fitting and Joy Prom, at its heart, is not just about having a fun day, although we pray it is a wonderful, beautiful day for our guests. The heart of Joy Prom is to reflect the unending, extravagant, incredible love of God for these special individuals who are so marginalized by the world. When we reflect Christ’s heart, it helps them see their value and worth to us, and even more so to God.”

Sara Ackerman is assisted by volunteer Midge Miller while looking for the perfect prom dress. Photo by Sherrie Norris.

And a highlight for Ronnie, he said, is seeing the faces of their guests begin to light up the minute the walk in the door — even for the clothing selection and fitting. “Just look at that,” he said with a huge smile all his own as he pointed out the wide grins of those anxiously heading to the clothing racks.

Videos of past Joy Prom events were being shown on overhead screens on Saturday.

“We want the guests to be able to see themselves having a good time,” said Ronnie.

The Wrights, with special needs children of their own, are no strangers to the challenges that families and individuals face in similar situations. The couple has gone the extra mile — more than once — to help ease the load for those with whom they identify, and have been instrumental not only in coordinating Joy Prom for the last decade, but also devoting their time to the Special Needs Ministry at ABF.

Elliana Seyller and Terri Hodges are two of several volunteer
seamstresses on hand to do on-the-spot alterations during
Saturday’s dress fitting. Photo by Sherrie Norris

Joining the Wrights at Saturday’s pre-prom party were 30-plus volunteers who gave of their time and expertise in a variety of areas: helping arrange and set up the displays of all the formal wear, shoes and accessories that had been donated, guiding the shoppers to their appropriate sizes and helping them choose their favorite colors, or assisting them as they try on the items, and even doing on-the-spot alterations, if needed.

Having found his perfect-fitting suit coat, Thomas Donohue works on his craft item that will be displayed at next week’s Joy Prom, a
token he, like all the others, will later take home to enjoy long after the party is over. Photo by Sherrie Norris

After the guests were fitted with their party attire, they were then encouraged to complete a craft item, which will include a picture of themselves and be displayed as decorations at next week’s

“Then, afterward, they get to take their craft item home with them,” said Anne Margaret. “We hope it will help them all feel as if they have contributed to the event.”

Snacks were also served before the guests departed with their prom outfits, heading back to their homes and residential facilities with something special in hand as they await the big day. And, no one looks forward to Joy Prom any more so than do the Wrights, who along with their children, will join a couple hundred more guests and that many, or more, volunteers, from all across the area for a time to remember.

Anne Margaret describes, “It all begins with a red-carpet entrance, where each guest is announced by name to the cheering crowd. They each will then go to the ‘pamper stations’ — where the gentlemen can have their shoes shined, and the ladies can have their hair, make-up and nails done. Guests can have a professional picture taken at the photo booth, then, it’s on to the dance floor and (boxed) snacks.”

Guests, their friends, family members and volunteers waste no
time looking through the racks of party dresses in search of the
perfect one. Photo by Sherrie Norris

This year’s theme, in honor of the milestone celebration, is “Picture this… 10 years of God’s faithfulness!” And, yes, cameras will be everywhere, the Wrights said. Joy Prom 2023 will be held from 1 p.m. – 4:30 pm. Saturday, April 22nd.

During the event, guests will need to be accompanied by a parent or caregiver who can assist with their unique needs and help them enjoy their day.

And as the Wrights remind us, as a very special dance/party for a very special group of people, “Joy Prom is a chance for the church and community to share a lovely day, celebrating together God’s faithfulness to our beloved special needs community.”

A crowd arrives early for Saturday’s shopping day at Alliance
Bible Fellowship. Photo by Sherrie Norris

Each guest will need to be registered individually in advance by contacting Ronny and/or Anne Margaret Wright at rawright@skybest.com