A Very Special Prom

by | Mar 9, 2020 | Features, Sports

Photography by Karin Higgins

Football uses special teams to execute certain plays. On the Saturday after Valentine’s Day, five Aggies joined a very special team serving as escorts at a prom for teens and young adults with special needs.

The Shining Stars Prom, at Destiny Church’s community center in Rocklin, paired volunteers with about 70 individuals ages 14 to 30. The evening featured a red-carpet entrance, corsages and boutonnieres for the guests, photos, dancing and refreshments. And from the Aggies, gentlemanly attentions.

Quarterback Miles Hastings helped Shawna Paolicelli with her corsage. “He’s very nice,” she said. “We’re planning on a lot of dancing tonight,” said Hastings, who is a freshman majoring in economics.

Kooper Richardson, who recently had ankle surgery used a scooter to spare his foot for dancing with Montana Klentz. The offensive lineman has been an escort for six years at another special needs prom in Sacramento and involved teammates — 15 last year. When that event was discontinued, the Aggies volunteered to participate in this prom, hosted by the Destiny Heroes ministry. “Some of us just love doing this so much,” said the senior, who is majoring in communication.

Quarterback Brock Johnson, left, talked with guests Natalie Eddy and her boyfriend, Sam Ghilardi. “I want to make sure my guest feels attended to,” said the senior majoring in communication. Johnson said Head Coach Dan Hawkins encourages his players to be involved in community service.

Quarterback Hunter Rodrigues danced with many of the prom-goers. The junior knows most through his service with the Greater Sacramento Capernaum – Young Life, which ministers to individuals with special needs. “It’s the highlight of every week,” said the human development major.

Klentz hugged Kooper as her mother, Lisa Thompson, asked them to hold still for a photo. Klentz, who does not speak, communicated her enjoyment through smiles, enthusiastic gestures and hopping with delight.

Parents Tim and Edit Weeks take photos of daughter Hana Weeks with Kaden Richardson, Kooper’s brother, an offensive lineman and freshman majoring in communication, at the end of the evening. “We want the prom to be something they’ll remember for the rest of their lives,” Kaden said of the guests.

Shy at the beginning of the night, Weeks came alive on the dance floor with Kaden Richardson. “This is her first official dance,” said father Tim Weeks. “She’s having a great time.”