A reason to dance

Katie Stinson of Kingdom City and her date Joey Garrard smile for a photo during a prom sponsored by the organization, Celebrating Abilities Together (CAT), at the John C. Harris Community Center. CAT organizes dances at the community center once a month for people of all ages with developmental (physical or mental) disabilities. The dances allow parents and caregivers to network while allowing those with disabilities a chance to feel comfortable and welcomed in a social setting. Stinson, 22, was prom queen of North Callaway High School and graduated from there in 2010. When Garrard was a high schooler, his school did not sponsor a prom, so Friday’s dance was his first time attending a prom.

Katie Stinson of Kingdom City and her date Joey Garrard smile for a photo during a prom sponsored by the organization, Celebrating Abilities Together (CAT), at the John C. Harris Community Center. CAT organizes dances at the community center once a month for people of all ages with developmental (physical or mental) disabilities. The dances allow parents and caregivers to network while allowing those with disabilities a chance to feel comfortable and welcomed in a social setting. Stinson, 22, was prom queen of North Callaway High School and graduated from there in 2010. When Garrard was a high schooler, his school did not sponsor a prom, so Friday’s dance was his first time attending a prom. Photo by Brittany Ruess.

What happens on the last Friday of the month in the John C. Harris Community Center has been a 16-year dream for mother Janice Craighead.

Since her son was 12, she’s hoped for her son, who has born with ventral septal heart defect and mental and physical disabilities, to have an opportunity to enjoy social events like his three siblings.

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Eric Crosby, 18, Hannah Babcock, Fulton Public Schools P.E. teacher, and Taylor Oestreich, Special Olympics coach, all of Fulton, smile as Crosby’s mother, Jeannie Crosby, takes a photo of the group outside the John C. Harris Community Center on Friday before a prom for those with developmental disabilities. Celebrating Abilities Together, a newly-founded organization for people with disabilities and their caregivers, organized the prom.

“When they were getting dressed up to go out you could see in his face he was left out,” Craighead said.

Janice Craighead calls her son, J.C., her miracle baby; he’s undergone three open heart surgeries among many other procedures. Doctors said he wouldn’t live past 15. He’s now 28.

Being left out is no longer the case for J.C. on Friday nights.

Dressed in a tuxedo, complete with a white flower boutonniere, he listened to music with his friends at prom on Friday night.

The prom was organized by Celebrating Disabilities Together, a newly-founded Callaway County organization for those with development disabilities and their caregivers. The organization started about eight months ago. The last Friday of every month, people of all ages with disabilities and their friends and families join together to dance.

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Anyone interested in joining CAT or donating to the organization, contact Heather Weaver at (573) 220-8665 or weaver65251@yahoo.com, or Janice Craighead at (573) 642-0505 or janicec@radiowire.net.

To finish reading this article, please pick up a copy of The Fulton Sun at a newsstand nearest you or become a subscriber by calling (573) 642-7272.

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