Joy Abounds: Joy Prom, Saturday, November 15th

By Leslie Moore

Joy Abounds: Joy Prom, Saturday, November 15th

Prom is the time to be a prince or princess – this is the first formal dance for many young people and weeks are spent shopping for the perfect dress and accessories. But, for children with handicaps, prom is usually an unrealized dream. Three years ago, Dave Moen, leader of the special needs group at Beach Church and Joy Prom coordinator, was approached by Pastor Todd Elliot, who thought it was time for prom to include everyone. Since then, Joy Prom has provided a magical night for special needs children living in our community.

Our opening is extravagant,” Dave began. “We have a giant red carpet lined with volunteers who cheer each guest into the prom.” The actual event begins much earlier, with volunteers doing hair and makeup in a staging area of the church. Clothing is also a challenge for many of these kids, but with the help of Katie’s Project and other local organizations, everyone is outfitted in splendorous clothing for the evening, with specially made tuxedos and dresses that can accommodate the medical equipment needed by many attendees.

Joy Abounds: Joy Prom, Saturday, November 15th

Dave stresses that this event is for the entire community. “Last year we had attendees ranging in age from 5-52. Many volunteers from businesses and organizations from the Conway High School Marching Band to actors from Medieval Times provide entertainment throughout the night. It’s a very emotional evening. It’s hard to describe the joy these kids experience, most for the first time.” The Conway High School Marching Band led the parade last year (yes, they have a parade!) with the song “What Makes You Beautiful,” and have already volunteered to come back again this year.

An elegant dinner is as much a part of prom as the music and dancing, so the volunteers work hard to provide that as well. Two seatings are required for the 80-90 guests to eat, and elegant table side service sets the tone for this special evening. Local grocery stores provide most of the food – which interestingly enough, is the typical Thanksgiving dinner. This food choice was made in order to provide the most hypoallergenic meal possible for those on restricted diets.

Even the lighting is modified to accommodate special needs. Children with epilepsy can’t be around flashing lights and fluorescent lighting is also banned for the evening. Flash photography is used for those oh-so-important prom photos, but diffusing umbrellas are used by volunteer photographers.

For that one magical night, we ignore special needs.” Dave says. “Then all of us go home and cry for the rest of the week.”

To get involved or donate to the Joy Prom, contact Dave Moen at or visit

Selected photography by J.C. Elle Photography

About this writer

  • Leslie Moore Leslie Moore is the editor for Strand Media Group. A 25 year resident of Pawleys Island, she is blessed with a life filled with the love of family and friends and satisfying work to do every day.

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One Response to “Joy Abounds: Joy Prom, Saturday, November 15th”

  1. Michele graffam says:

    I just found out my daughter and I were in the magazine for the joy prom of 2013. I found the article. Is there any possible way I can get a copy?

    Thank you

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