LIMA — While more typical memories of prom consist of frilly dresses, a long night of dancing and good times with childhood friends, the students at Apollo Career Center took away much more from their prom night last Saturday.
When Jeff Horner was named prom king, things played out as expected. Someone placed the ornate crown on his head, and he danced with the prom queen. But then, he returned to the stage, and called for Alex Hunter to join him.
Horner put his arm around Hunter and said, "You deserve this more than I do," placing the crown on his head instead.
Emotions ran high for Apollo students and staff that night. They cheered, and Hunter and the prom queen danced together.
Hunter, 21, has Down syndrome. He has attended Apollo Career Center for the past four years. And once the crown was placed on his head, his mom said he would not stop smiling.
"It was so cute," said Hunter's mother, Stacy Crouse, who was chaperoning the dance with her husband that night. Her son was on prom court, but the events that unfolded that night caught her completely by surprise.
"(Jeff) put that crown on his head, and they both kind of held their arms up in the air, and had their other arm around each other. They both had big smiles on their faces. It was just so nice," she said.
Crouse talked to Horner afterwards, and said he was choked up. She was very touched by the gesture, calling it selfless and refreshing.
“You just hear so many bad things about younger adults. And you don’t get to hear the good as much. And that was just really awesome because he did such a kind act for the goodness of someone else,” she said. "My son will never forget that, and I'm sure (Jeff) won't, and I'm sure the people who witnessed that won't forget it, either."
Horner could not immediately be reached for comment.