BETHANY — Megan Roy, a senior at Carl Albert High School wanted to do something big — something so completely different for her third and final prom.
“Instead of taking dates from the school, we thought we would choose people who don't get to go to a high school prom,” she said.
So the 18-year-old and two friends from the high school in the Midwest City-Del City School District chose three patients at The Children's Center in Bethany.
Chelsea Egge, 17, has called The Children's Center her second home since 2009. She has dystonic cerebral palsy, which causes her muscles to work against each other. When she turns 18 in August, she will say goodbye to her friends at the center. She will take with her many memories, but none will top the moment she met Megan Roy.
It is a chilly day in April, and Chelsea Egge is about to receive a surprise; something no other Children's Center patient has ever experienced. Today, Chelsea will go shopping for a prom dress.
Her eyes light up when she enters the boutique and sees the beautiful dresses awaiting her. With her mother, Sheila Egge, at her side, she searches for the one that will make her look and feel like a princess.
“Chelsea is such a girlie girl. She loves this moment,” Sheila Egge said. “The smile on her face is something I will never forget.”
Hot pink, full of glitter and pouf, lots of pouf … it is the dress Chelsea has chosen to wear to the prom. And her mom could not be happier.
“She lit up when she saw that pink, sparkly dress. Nothing was topping that dress. She's going to look like Cinderella.”
Camilla Dadulo, Chelsea's special-education teacher, helped coordinate the trip.
“It's every little girl's dream to find that perfect dress. For Chelsea to experience that with her mom is something that I never thought could happen,” Dadulo said.
Preparations are not quite so tedious for the two boys attending the prom with Chelsea, but The Children's Center staff has taken careful measures to match their attire to their unique personalities.
Terry Davis, 16, of Oklahoma City, will wear a black tux with a bright yellow and black striped tie. He's a fan of “Sponge Bob Square Pants.”
Chris Schatz, 15, of Bethany, who is known for his trendy fashion sense, will wear a black tux with a bright orange vest and bow tie to match his date's dress.
The first meeting
It is one week before the prom, and Megan and her longtime friend, Lani Harrell, arrive at The Children's Center.
“Today, we meet Chelsea, Chris and Terry. I think we are going to play some games with them,” she said.
The girls, minus their third partner, Seth Blanton, who is back at Carl Albert playing baseball, are visiting their dates to get to know them better. “Nobody wants a blind date for the prom,” Megan laughs.
Megan and Lani arrive early, which gives them the chance to meet some of the younger patients who have converged in the physical and occupational therapy gym. The Children's Center cares for children newborn to 18. It is a great opportunity for the girls to warm up before meeting Chelsea, Terry and Chris.
“All of these children are normal people, too. They deserve to be treated in a nice way,” Megan said. “I think it's cool that we can come out here and interact with them.”
A special session has been scheduled for Chelsea, Terry and Chris to play a game called Snakes and Ladders with the Carl Albert girls. It does not take long for the competition to rev up.
“I might be a girlie girl, but I can whip you,” echoes a voice recorded into an adapter to help Chelsea communicate. She can tap a red switch adapter hooked to her wheelchair when she has something to say.
Terry, not one to back down from a challenge, is first to raise his hand when Dadulo asks who would like to roll the dice. Megan likes his charm.
“He's very outgoing. It's cool how he interacts with everyone,” Megan says. “He likes giving us his phone number through his computer adapter and blowing us kisses.”
It is 6:30 in the evening. The weather is warm — the perfect Saturday for a prom. Chelsea, already dressed, is on her way to get her hair and makeup done.
The music of Justin Bieber, Chelsea's favorite pop star, is blaring on a radio inside a makeshift beauty salon. Pink tulle hangs from mirrors strategically placed for Chelsea to watch her transformation.
Dadulo and another special-education teacher, Ashley Bauman, go to work on her hair and makeup.
Terry and Chris are then wheeled into the salon for quick improvements to their hair. Boutonnieres are placed on their tuxes.
“I think they look absolutely perfect. They are definitely ready for their big night,” Dadulo says.
The cost of the prom apparel for the three patients was underwritten by Cher A. Bumps & Associates, longtime supporters of The Children's Center.
The teens are loaded onto a bus for the trip to the Reed Center in Midwest City.
“Prom is one of those magical nights that everybody should get to enjoy,” Lani says as she waits for her date to arrive. “It's nice to be able to help them enjoy it.”
“It's always a dream come true to help someone out. It makes them happy, but it makes us even happier,” said Seth, who is Chelsea's date.
“When I saw Chelsea come off the van, I fought back tears,” her mother said.
“I love Chelsea's dress. Pink is definitely her color. She is working it tonight,” Lani said. “The boys look so handsome.”
The photo-taking begins.
“Smile, Terry!” a voice yells from the crowd.
“Chris, please look this way,” his mother says.
Megan, Lani and Seth pull out crowns for their dates.
“They are our prom kings and queen for the night,” Megan explains as she puts her crown on Chris' head.
“I think this is the least we could do. I truly believe they are kings and queen without the crowns,” Lani says.
The teens make their way inside.
The students are at the sides of their dates the entire night. They dance, cheer when an announcement is made that the Thunder had swept the Mavericks and introduce their dates to everyone who stops by.
It was a magical time — a night no one will soon forget.
Melissa Richey is a communications coordinator at The Children's Center in Bethany.