A moment in time

Jodi Shenal by Jodi Shenal Additional Needs

Jodi Shenal

Jodi Shenal

I'm a stay-at-home mom with two amazing children. My son is on the Autism spectrum and my daughter has a rare genetic disorder and multiple disabil...

Every little girl deserves the opportunity to attend a Daddy-Daughter dance.

Every father deserves the chance to proudly escort his daughter to such a special event.

Thinking of all the experiences and “typical” childhood moments that my own daughter misses out on, one day a notion hit me like a ton of bricks. Disability should NEVER rob ANY child of meaningful, memorable life experiences.

Disability should never be allowed to steal anyone’s joy.

Longing for inclusion for my daughter and my husband, feeling heartache for the things they’ll miss out on, an idea sparked. “What if there was a way to create such an opportunity for children with special needs and their parents?”

Realizing that this would be a huge undertaking, I reached out to a friend with a generous heart, who works within the special needs community.

She jumped right on board and brought a plethora of ideas with her! A mere spark quickly ignited into hundreds of Pinterest boards, text message exchanges and planning meetings.

Others having a heart to serve reached out to us. We beseeched support from our community and secured and organized volunteers.

To our delight, our concept was widely embraced. Quickly, our vision was beautifully unfolding before our eyes.

Every detail of accommodating children with special needs and their parents was taken into consideration. “Sensory-friendly” was not a term to be taken lightly, in any aspect.

Three months after the initial meeting with my thoughtful and creative friend over coffee at Starbucks, our vision was brought to life. Our whimsical “Butterfly Ball” was now a reality for families like mine.

Words can’t express the feeling of watching the hours of tireless work and planning transformed into something so magical.

Seeing parents dancing with their children in wheelchairs, having family photos taken in their fancy attire, and enjoying an evening JUST FOR THEM, was exhilarating.

Knowing that they could relax, have fun, let go and feel comfortable in an environment of acceptance and understanding was heart-warming.

As my own husband and daughter entered the ballroom, both elegantly dressed in purple, my heart overflowed with joy.

Watching him pick her up from her wheelchair and seeing her experiencing with him what I had desperately wished for, took my breath away.

She looked so beautiful, and he was so very handsome. They were attending their first Daddy-Daughter dance. Nothing could take away the sheer wonder of their evening out together.

It was a moment in time that I will never, ever forget. That picture-perfect scene is forever etched in my memory.

As parents of children with special needs, we wish for our children to live their very best lives.

We yearn to give them the moon and the stars, just as all parents do for their children. I

’m forever grateful to a dear friend with a heart of gold…and all the helpers that shared in our aspiration.

You created an invaluable gift for families that are often left out; families that are often spectators watching from the sidelines.…You INCLUDED us, giving us the most precious moment in time.



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