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Fantastic Friends of WNY Holds Annual Special Needs Prom

April 17, 2024
Individuals dancing in a group inside a banquet hall
Photos by Fantastic Friends founder Debbie Cordone

original article

Together with the D’Youville University occupational therapy department, Fantastic Friends of WNY hosted a special needs prom on Friday at the South Line Firehall in Cheektowaga. This year’s event was sponsored by MERJ Fleet Services and hosted by South Line Volunteer Fire Co.

“Members of our special needs community looks forward to the annual prom every year – it gives these individuals a chance to experience the glitz and glamour of prom,” said Debbie Cordone, found of Fantastic Friends. “April is Autism Awareness Month, and we were thrilled to provide a prom for special needs individuals, many who are connected to the autism community.”

The prom allows special needs individuals to experience a night of music and dancing with their peers. This year, 90 special needs participants were paired with a volunteer buddy/date. Participants enjoyed dinner, snacks, music with a DJ, dancing, photo booth, red carpet experience, and swag bags.

In recent years, Fantastic Friends has increased programming and expanded its special needs center located on French Road in Cheektowaga. A capital campaign is now underway to construct a new facility.

Fantastic Friends of WNY is a volunteer-driven organization for special needs individuals of all ages whose mission statement is to provide a safe, comfortable environment for individuals with developmental and/or intellectual disabilities of all ages. Cordone refers to it as “a place of acceptance and understanding without judgement.”

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