Their worlds are already often restricted in social interactions, so when a local church decided to go ahead with this year’s special needs ball during the isolation of coronavirus the emotional payoff was big and joyous, said the dance’s organizer.

The recent “One Special Night” special needs prom at Berachah Church in Middletown was canceled last year during the first weeks of the pandemic’s onset.

But Pastor Lamar Ferrell said this year’s safer environment made the event at the church, which was attended by 40 special needs teens and young adults along with their families, all the more important given the limited social interactions forced by coronavirus on the participates in the last year.

“It was fantastically more important,” said Ferrell, whose church had been conducting the balls since 2017.

“For these young people to be together for the first time since school has opened up, it was an incredible celebration.”

The superhero themed event, which saw many volunteers dressed as super comic book characters, saw attendees treated like royalty with each person getting crowned king or queen on stage, dancing, hot air balloon glow and a performance by members of the Cincinnati Circus.

Many area public and private schools in recent years has developed and conducted such events for special needs students, often involving a prom or other theme to add to the teens sense of inclusion with the rest of the students.

Safety was paramount, he said, with social distancing and all event volunteers wearing masks and following other precautions.

The gala event delivered more than fun and thrills for special needs participants but also an intangible even more valuable during an on-going pandemic.

“It brings hope. And not only hope to the participants but also to their families,” said Ferrell.

“Their families had a fantastic time dancing, being together and celebrating. It was a night – from start to finish – that was incredibly beautiful.”

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