Erica’s friends convinced her to go to the prom even without a date. Suddenly, her father showed up and danced with his little girl. Sadly, other kids started mocking them, and that’s when her dad did something no one expected.
“Just have fun darling,” Gregory told his daughter, Erica, who was finally ready for prom. However, the girl hesitated at the door because she didn’t have a date, unlike her only two friends. She had always been shy, and no one asked her to the prom. But Gregory and his wife, Olive, were convinced that she would have a good time.
“You know… one of the other kids might not have a date either, and they could ask you to dance,” Olive added, pushing her daughter out the door. One of Erica’s friends was driving, and they waved her goodbye for the night.
Suddenly, the music stopped completely, and people turned towards the tiny stage where the DJ had set up his station.
Despite her worries, Erica was having tons of fun at the prom. It didn’t matter that she didn’t have a date, and her mom was right. Some people came alone, and others came in groups with their friends just like her. Her worries had been for nothing. She enjoyed dancing and taking pictures with her girlfriends, mainly because this would be one of the last memories she would make with them before they went to college.
However, a slow song came up, and her friends wanted to dance with their dates. “I’ll sit over there. I’m so tired,” she said, using her hand to fan herself, and she went to one of the tables to rest.
Erica sat down and saw everyone pairing up and slow dancing; even the ones who didn’t come with dates managed to find someone.
Somehow, it made her feel more inadequate. The only other people not dancing were some parents who had volunteered to chaperone the event. Hopefully, people wouldn’t notice, and the slow song would soon be over.
However, something in the corner caught her eye, and she saw her dad rolling his wheelchair toward her with a big smile. “Would you like to dance, young lady?” he asked, extending his hand.
“Dad!” she said with a grin, grabbing his hand and standing up. They went to the dance floor and started swaying as best they could. Her dad was a surprisingly great dancer even from his wheelchair, and she felt so much better.
Unfortunately, her happiness was short-lived. The music was not enough to drown some of the catty laughter that reached her ears, and as she looked around, she saw some of her classmates laughing at them.
“Oh, what a loser!”
“She has to dance with her dad! So sad!”
“Is that really dancing? He’s sitting down!”
The comments became too much that her smile had gone from her face. She grabbed her dad’s attention. “Dad, let’s get out of here,” she begged.
He frowned, looking at her distressed face, and finally, the older man noticed the other kids’ laughs and looks. “No, Erica. Keep dancing. Keep having fun,” he told her, trying to get her to move. But his daughter was too embarrassed, and nothing was worse than seeing your kid suffer.
“Ok, go sit down. I have to do something first,” Gregory stated and wheeled away from the dance floor.
Erica returned to the table and opened one of the water bottles to calm herself. She wanted to get this night over with and forget all about it. High school was awful. The people were horrible, and she couldn’t wait for college.
Suddenly, the music stopped completely, and people turned toward the tiny stage where the DJ had set up his station.
Erica stood up and noticed her dad up there, calling everyone’s attention. “Hello, kids. I hope you’re having a fun prom night,” he started, and all the kids cheered. But Erica saw how the people who made fun of their dancing snickered evilly at him. She wanted to protect him from them. But her father was about to defend her.
“Years ago, when I was about your age, my classmates and I rented a bus for prom night right here in Ohio. It was supposed to be the best time of our lives…It wasn’t. We got into an accident, and there was a fire. I was injured trying to get everyone out of the bus. I succeeded that day, but I also paid the price,” Gregory explained, pointing at his legs.
The whole room was silent now. No mocking. No snickers. Nothing. Erica focused solely on her dad, who had never discussed his accident in such detail with her.
“You would be surprised to know that some of the people I saved are here today. Samantha and Katherine, standing at the corner over there, for example,” he pointed, and people looked towards those moms. “I believe that your kids are Austin and Richard, who I just saw laughing at me and my daughter dancing.”
Everyone looked at the kids he mentioned, and they at least seemed ashamed of themselves.
“But they were not the only ones, of course. Anyway, I just wanted to say that I think I saved enough people and worked hard in my life to be able to dance with my daughter on her prom night and not be mocked for it. I thought we had progressed and this new generation believes in inclusion, tolerance, and understanding. But I’m sorry to see that my old high school friends raised children who would mock a disabled man and his kid just for dancing…I hope you learn from this. Meanwhile, my daughter and I will continue to have fun tonight. Thank you,” Gregory finished. He gave the microphone back, and some kids helped him off the platform.
Erica smiled, tears running down her face. She never knew that her dad had been a hero, and she planned to ask him for more details about it later.
Gregory came to her, extended his hand again, and she couldn’t say no. The music resumed, and they danced all night. Her friends and their dates joined them during the fast songs.
At some point, Erica saw the moms her dad had mentioned scolding their children, and she grinned at that. Serves them right, she thought pettily and continued having fun. Some of the kids who had been scolded came over to apologize a few minutes later, and one boy asked Erica for a dance, but she rejected him and kept enjoying the night with her dad.
When the party ended, Gregory took her for some late-night ice cream, where Erica asked him questions about the accident, marveling at how brave her dad had been at her age. That’s when she decided to become a first responder in the future. She wanted to save lives too.
What can we learn from this story?
Never make fun of other people, no matter the circumstance. By 18, everyone should know that judging others based on appearance, gender, orientation, or anything else is terrible. Gregory and Erica shouldn’t have to endure that mockery during prom.
Never miss an event you want to attend just because you don’t have a date. There is no reason not to have fun, even if you’re going solo.
Share this story with your friends. It might brighten their day and inspire them.
If you enjoyed this story, you might like this one about a bride who didn’t want her dad in a wheelchair to walk her down the aisle until she saw him on television.