This recent Lake Brantley High School grad made sure the pageantry of prom was available to all
Like most high-school seniors, Abigail Perez dreamed of a perfect prom night – a beautiful dress, a sleek stretch limo, sharing the experience with close friends. Abigail, who recently graduated from Lake Brantley High, made her prom-night dreams come true, and thanks to her big heart and hard work, she made the dreams of several others come true, too.
Abigail is a member of Lake Brantley’s Patriot Inclusion Team (PIT), a group of students who volunteer to be paired with special-needs peers to help them out throughout the school day. Along the way, the PIT students learn about diversity and inclusion, and they help the entire LBHS student body embrace those who might otherwise be marginalized on campus.
During her two years as a PIT participant, Abigail formed strong relationships with the peers she helped, whether she was lending support and encouragement to them in their classes or providing a positive pep talk to help them get through the day. Abigail and her PIT peers built an unbreakable bond.
“Being able to see the smiles on all of their faces every morning and really feeling like I was making them feel included and loved made being a part of PIT very worthwhile,” says Abigail. “I was able to remind them that their differences do not define who they are.”
When talk of prom night for the 2019 senior class began buzzing around campus, Abigail realized that attending this high-school rite of passage might not be so easy for some of her PIT peers.
“They were so excited about the idea of prom,” says Abigail, “but many of them were worried about affording prom and finding transportation to get to it. Hearing their disappointment broke my heart. I knew I had to do something because I was not going to allow them to miss out on this very special night in their lives.”
That’s when Operation PIT Prom took shape. Abigail knew she wanted to provide a limousine to transport her friends to prom, but she also knew that would cost a lot of money. So, she went to her parents with the idea and began doing chores around the house to earn extra cash. She bartered with other family members, too, in exchange for donations. It was her brother, Andre, who was Abigail’s biggest supporter and helped her reach her goal to rent the limo.
Abigail’s parents were filled with pride seeing their daughter do something so special for her friends.
“I was surprised and amazed to think that my daughter came up with this idea,” says Wanda, Abigail’s mom. “This type of selfless act is truly extraordinary.”
With the money for the limo secured, Abigail and her PIT peers headed to prom feeling like royalty, ready to experience an unforgettable night. She remembers dancing alongside Erik, one of her PIT peers, and hearing him exclaim that prom night was the best night of his life
“Erik’s words made all the hard work in obtaining the limo worthwhile,” beams Abigail. “Hearing the giggles and seeing the smiles on all of their faces is a memory I will never forget.”
Abigail will never forget her PIT experience, either. She says it required love, patience, and self-sacrifice, but the rewards outweighed the challenges. She encourages other LBHS students to apply for the program.
“I would tell them to go for it,” says Abigail. “They will make a difference on campus and participate in something that they will long remember. Not to mention, they will make some of the very best friends of their lives.”
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