Prom night for autistic Blackfoot girl 'perfect'
Despite Friday's pesky rain and wind, the Blackfoot High School prom and the festivities surrounding it went perfectly for Rachael Slay, her date Nathaniel Stansfield and a group of friends, who arrived at the prom like royalty in the luxury of shiny,10-seat limousine with leather interior.
Serrina Slay, Rachael's mother, used social media and the help of The Morning News to help find her only child, who has non-speaking autism, a date to the prom. Thanks to a generous community and Rachael's date, Nathaniel Stansfield of Blackfoot, Rachael received the princess treatment and one eventful day that she will never forget.
Local businessman John Pruett paid for the limousine and dinner at Texas Roadhouse in Idaho Falls for Rachael and her friends; local beautician Mercedes Wood of Paisley Studio did Rachael's hair and makeup. Her dress was donated by SweetProm.com out of Idaho Falls. The 'day date' was held at "Blast Off," an arcade in Idaho Falls.
"It was a busy day, but everything went great," Slay said. "She [Rachael] had such a wonderful time. She laughed and danced. I am so happy and grateful that it happened."
Slay said the ride in the limousine seemed to be the highlight of Rachael's evening, adding, "I will never forget how her face lit up when the limousine pulled up. She was all smiles."
Slay praised Rachael's date for his kindness and generosity, describing him as a "perfect gentleman."
"He was such a gentleman and so good and kind to Rachael," she said.
Stansfield, 18, who was the first gentleman of four to contact Slay about taking Rachael to the prom, enjoyed the experience also saying, "It went very well. Everyone seemed to have a great time and stayed involved with each other."
Stansfield, who has been home-schooled, will receive his high school diploma this year and anticipates serving an LDS Mission and then attending college.
Although Rachael can't verbally express her thoughts about the events, Slay said that she can see on Rachael's face that she is reliving the moments of the fairy tale evening in her mind.
"She is still just glowing and smiling; I just know that those memories are swirling through her head," she said.
Slay said that she is still "blown away" with the outcome of what started as a simple quest to find her daughter a prom date, and that she intends to "pay it forward."
"I am so grateful to the students and the community that made this happen," she said. "I will do what I can each year to see that this happens for another special needs young man or woman in our community."