On the weekend of the royal wedding, Gabriella got to play the princess not once, but twice.
Last week, her adult day program at Ladacin held their annual spring fling gala. Then on Saturday came the Lakeview School prom, to which she and other alumni are always invited. Our daughter got dressed up and attended both.
Thursday’s gala had a Red Carpet theme, and the Ladacin clients were encouraged to wear black, red and gold. Gabriella wore a black-and-white dress with hot pink highlights, topped with a black sweater. Her black shoes had hot pink accents.
Gabriella was attended by her mom and her nurse. Among the clients, each lady received a corsage (boutonnières for the gentlemen), and hers had a pink carnation to match her outfit.
The staff worked very hard to relocate the program to the hall, transporting equipment, feeding supplies and medicines as needed. They spent all their time ensuring the clients enjoyed themselves, including moving those who were able to do so into standers to allow them to dance upright. Gabriella listened to the music in her wheelchair.
The decorations reflected the theme, featuring a photo booth area with a red carpet and centerpieces with film reels. The art director presented each classroom with a “Laddie award” customized to recognize their own personality.
Our daughter’s classroom, along with staff and some parents, occupied three tables. Guests dined on a variety of entrees, and Gabriella ate pureed penne with vodka sauce. Throughout the afternoon, she observed the activity with interest. It was great to see she has made friends among the clients at the program, with two asking for photographs with her. Her warm smile melted hearts everywhere, including her father’s later on at home.
Two days later, Lisa and I joined her at her eighth Lakeview prom. This has become an event that our daughter looks forward to for weeks in advance, growing excited each time we brought it up.
The prom was held at The Pines Manor, the same site as each of the prior seven, although the school had the event at several other locations following its debut in 1991. As usual, the room was spacious and the wait-staff cheerful and ready to provide whatever help was needed.
Gabriella wore a flowing pink dress with a white sweater and silver slippers. The carnation from the gala was still fresh and matched her attire perfectly. She arrived in her adapted minivan, and was escorted through the rain by her father with a golf umbrella, then into the hall by her mother wearing black-and-white.
The DJ played soft ballads while the guests ate, but soon after increased the tempo. Gabriella danced with her parents and with friends, enjoying being whirled in her chair. At times the music became overwhelming, but her noise-reducing headphones helped to put her at ease.
The buffet included chicken, sausage-and-peppers, and baked ziti, and they pureed a combination to give her a mixture of flavors. Gabriella enjoyed the blend, offset by applesauce. Dessert was a white sheet cake.
The thirteen students soon to graduate from Lakeview gathered before the ice sculpture to be honored with a special serenade. Then, in a new development, the DJ called forth all the alumni. Roughly twenty adults took the floor, and he played “That’s What Friends are For”. (And yes, I got that familiar clutch in my throat…)
Twice over a three-day period, our daughter celebrated with her current and former classmates. While she was not named a duchess, she played princess. It’s a role she’s always loved, and one that has always made her father most proud.