“One Special Night” dance at Berachah Church

WATCH: Butler County ‘prom’ provides special experience for dozens of special needs students and adults

About 55 students and adults with disabilities attended the prom-like event Friday night at Berachah Church in Middletown, said Maryanne Ferrell, an organizer. She said there were about 150 volunteers at the dinner/dance that included students from schools and agencies in Middletown, Hamilton, Monroe, Madison, Edgewood, Carlisle, Franklin, Lakota, Centerville and Dayton.

She said there were volunteers from most schools and Middletown Superintendent Marlon Styles Jr. and Middletown High School Principal Carmela Cotter attended.

Each attendee was crowned by a school representative or Berachah Pastor Jim Tinch, who played the part of the “Greatest Showman” from the movie, Ferrell said.

The prom will be an annual event, always scheduled the third Friday of March, she said.

“We want to continue to expand and grow,” she said. “Get the community involved to a greater degree.”

Area businesses and individuals donated about $5,000 by Friday and more was donated days after the prom, she said.

“We are so encouraged,” Ferrell said.

MORE: This inspiring event will give Butler County special needs students ‘an awesome evening’

She praised the efforts of local special needs educators and para-professionals who serve as student aids.

Ferrell was asked to describe the atmosphere inside the church: “There were smiles everywhere. No intimidation, no comparisons. I didn’t want the night to end if that tells you something.”

Ferrell said the event was successful because of the volunteers, especially Tina Shell from Valley View, who converted the church’s life center into a hair and nail salon; and Madison’s Karen Dawson, who turned the sanctuary into a circus.

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