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Thanks to the kindness and generosity of the community and one special young man, a night fit for a princess awaits Rachael Slay, a senior at Blackfoot High School with non-speaking autism, as she prepares to attend the BHS prom on Friday night.
A few weeks ago, Rachael's mother, Serrina Slay, used social media and the assistance of the Morning News in hope of finding her only child, Rachael, a date to the prom saying, "She [Rachael] has never gone to a school dance or any school function and I would love for her to have this one last opportunity to go to the Blackfoot High School prom."
Not only did four nice young men step up offering to be Rachael's date, but an entire community came forward to help give Rachael a night she will never forget.
Slay said she is grateful to all of the gentlemen who offered to take Rachael to the dance, but after meeting each one, she decided that Nathaniel Stansfield, 18, of Blackfoot, would be the best choice.
"He was the first one to contact me and he is a very nice, young man. He has taken the initiative to spend some time with Rachael and get to know her," she said. "He is a home-schooled student, so this is a good opportunity for him to go to the dance as well."
"I have to say that I was completely blown away by the immediate generosity of this community," Slay exclaimed.
Slay said the day that the Morning News article hit the paper about Rachael, she was contacted by local businessman John Pruett, owner of John's Auto, who offered to pay for dinner and a limousine rental for up to 10 people. Mercedes Wood, owner of Paisley Studio in Blackfoot, offered to do Rachael's hair and make-up free of charge, while a Riviera prom dress was donated for Rachael to wear from SweetProm.com out of Idaho Falls.
Slay said numerous professional photographers have offered to take Rachael's pictures, too.
"The dress is beautiful...it changes colors when it moves. Rachael is excited about the pretty dress hanging in the closet and knows that she will get to wear it very soon," Slay said.
A group of BHS students have rallied around Rachael and Nathaniel and will attend the entire day's festivities with them to help assure that Rachel stays safe and has a good time.
"The kids will go on a 'day-date' to Blast Off [an arcade in Idaho Falls] and later they'll ride the limo to Texas Roadhouse in Idaho Falls for dinner and then on to the prom," Slay said.
"It'll be a 'back-and-forth' day and I will be the 'stalker' following them in the car," she joked.
In all seriousness, Slay said she hopes that the goodness shown to Rachael will carry on for years to come.
"Hopefully, if people see that there is a 'special needs' young man or woman at their school - someone will offer to do for them what has been done for Rachael, by including them and making them feel special," Slay concluded.