She walked into the room wearing the perfect dress complimented with special jewelry. Her hair fell into soft ringlets around her shoulders. Her makeup enhanced her already lovely face. Her nails were expertly polished to match the flowers that she would receive later that evening from the perfect prom date.
I don’t think her father nor I will ever forget that image. The lovely young lady standing before us was our daughter, Aubrey. And she had already begun a magical experience provided by Dream on 3.
Aubrey has autism. Although she has always been well liked, we have watched as she struggled to develop and maintain peer relationships which meant Aubrey had never been asked to a prom. But all of that changed when Elizabeth and Brandon Lindsey visited our home on Good Friday. They brought with them a videoed promposal from NFL wide receiver Steve Smith, Sr. He was wearing a hat and the cutest smile as he asked Aubrey if she would allow him to take her to her senior prom. She looked around and gave a coy little giggle. Then she accepted.
While this story of a young woman who struggles to speak and the star athlete who reached out to her seemed to catch the nation’s attention, Aubrey remained relatively unfazed. When I would pick her up from school and the topic of conversation would turn to Steve Smith and the prom she would say his name, pump her fist as if dancing, and giggle. Then Elizabeth forwarded a request from Steve asking if we could meet him before the prom so we could all get to know each other. The day of the meeting Aubrey was excited but shy as he presented her with a beautiful necklace and matching earrings. We spent almost 2 hours talking and immediately felt comfortable when we found we had many things in common.
Steve was a gentleman through the entire experience and was very sensitive to Aubrey as a person.
As the day approached, Aubrey grew more excited. We laid out her dress, shoes, and the special jewelry. Family and friends arrived. Then the Dream on 3 crew arrived as well as a camera crew from the Ravens organization. Our usually quiet home became very lively with preparations, cameras, interviews, and choices. We were so proud of Aubrey. She handled all of the new experiences with maturity and grace.
The preparations were complete and it was time for the unveiling of the prom princess. She was beautiful but remained our Aubrey. She told her special friend Meghan that she loved her a hundred times – lol. One of Aubrey’s trademark interest is earrings so she was fascinated with Lyndsey’s dangle earrings. She laughed at our nervousness and waved as she rode away in the classic car. She seemed surprised when family and friends were waiting for her at the restaurant. Steve surprised us again by joining us at the restaurant and meeting our guests. Then we were off in the biggest limo that we had ever seen. At the prom, Steve showed Aubrey several dance moves and she joined him in the fun.
At the end of the evening, she received another surprise when she was chosen prom queen. She started her evening as our prom princess and finished it as a prom queen. Steve mentioned that his only regret was that he was not prom king. Oops, maybe next time.
Aubrey definitely had the experience of a lifetime, but we also had a great experience.
We got to actually join our daughter on her special night and see her joy first hand. That is not something that we will ever forget!
We want to thank Brandon and Elizabeth! As well as Courtney, Donald, Grant, and the support staff back at DO3! We were amazed at how easy it was to have these folks in our home. They used their professional tools to prepare Aubrey and to document this occasion.
They took into account who we were as a family and what was important to us. I was especially glad that they documented the importance of faith in our journey!
Aubrey has gone on to give back by volunteering at Steve Smith’s Family Foundations “Lace Up Son” Family 5K on Memorial Day and signed up to help with DO3’s Beers and Burpee’s event. She was also invited by the Ravens to attend the preseason game between the Ravens and the Carolina Panthers in Baltimore. Aubrey was honored to be the first recipient of the Nicholas Thornton Scholarship from DO3. She is using this scholarship to assist her in realizing a lifelong goal to be able to attend college and started as a student in Winthrop University Think College program in August.
We have seen a confident young lady emerge from this experience and we are very thankful to DO3 for Aubrey’s experience but also for what they provide to our community!
God’s Blessings to all of you!
Linda Bridges, Aubrey’s Mom