PRINCETON, WV (WOAY) – Friends Unlimited (FUN), a Mercer County nonprofit organization, will host its annual prom for adults with special needs on Saturday, May 5 at the Chuck Mathena Center in Princeton. The event will run from 7:00 to 9:30 pm for adults with cognitive and physical disabilities. Prom goers will enjoy a served dinner along with photos, music, and lots of dancing.
FUN president Candace Nelson says prom is the most exciting event on the schedule. “Our participants look forward to it weeks in advance. We’ve collected a stock of formal wear, shoes, and accessories over the years, so everyone has a chance to dress up.”
Thanks to cooperation with Princeton Senior High School, Friends UNlimited is able to hold its prom the night after Princeton’s.
Decorations and table settings remain up after Princeton’s prom on Friday so FUN attendees can experience a fully decorated venue on Saturday night, too. Dozens of volunteers help make prom a success by seating attendees as they arrive, taking photos, serving food, and helping with set-up and tear-down.
“Since FUN first began holding dances in 2004, attendance has grown and keeps growing. We expect as many as 400 to 500 people Saturday night,” says Kenny Franklin, vice-president for Friends UNlimited. “We’re fortunate the financial and volunteer support has grown with us.”
Nelson adds that prom is a major effort and would not be possible without help from the community. Friends UNlimited relies on grants from the Kathlyn Monk Charitable Trust, the Sandra Gayle Monk Fund of the Community Development of the Virginias, and sponsorship from local businesses. Agencies like Mercer County Opportunity Industries,
Southern Highlands Community Mental Health Center, and Rescare provide services for those with special needs on a regular basis but also assist with the Friends UNlimited events. “FUN brings together consumers from the various agencies along with those who live at home with their caregivers,” says Nelson. “We have a large special needs community in our area, and FUN gives us a chance to all get together.”
Princeton’s Chick-fil-A and Cracker Barrel are providing the dinner, which sponsored by long-time FUN supporter Wes Hinkle State Farm. Photographer David Rhinehart will be on hand Saturday to take formal portraits, and DJs Richard and Kim Sigmon will provide the music. Rhinehart and the Sigmons have volunteered their talents for many years and are attendee favorites. New FUN supporter, Pantili Mitsubishi in Princeton, is loaning a limo this year to serve as a background for pictures outside. “Our promgoers will be so excited at seeing a limousine,” says Nelson, “and thrilled to have a picture made in front of it!”
Friends UNlimited participant, Shontel Braun, is excited to attend her third prom. “It’s so much fun! Lots of dancing and good food!”
FUN events are open to adults with disabilities and their care providers. No pre- registration is required and there is no admission fee.