More than 500 prom-goers were greeted by Dorothy, the Cowardly Lion, and other Wizard of Oz characters for the Merakey Foundation’s 17th annual prom for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). This year’s theme was Somewhere Over the Rainbow.
Upon arrival, attendees got their photos taken with the characters on the paparazzi-lined yellow brick road, which doubled as a red carpet. Staff and caregivers dressed as characters from the Wizard of Oz, and the evening featured dinner, dancing, and an Oz-themed photo booth.
Merakey is a nonprofit dedicated to providing education and development and behavioral health to individuals across the country. Each year, the Foundation hosts a prom for individuals with intellectual disabilities, behavioral health issues, and individuals with autism. It’s an opportunity for them to celebrate their lives, share special moments with loved ones, and do something most of us have already done and maybe take for granted. “My favorite part is when folks are arriving and getting out of the limo and seeing their faces,” Lintons CEO Chris Dunton said, saying the arrivals reminded him of the Oscars.
Events such as the annual prom are made possible through the Merakey Foundation’s fundraising efforts. In February, Lintons helped Merakey raise over $66,000 — specifically for this event — at the 14th annual Goals for Giving ice hockey benefit with Philadelphia Flyers alumni.
Lintons is proud to support many Merakey programs, events, and other activities by providing nourishing meals and snacks to individuals and staff members. Lintons also employs individuals from IDD programs to help them gain meaningful employment and earn a recurring paycheck.
Debbie, a 17-year veteran of Lintons’ IDD employment program, not only works at Lintons, but she was also escorted by her date Chris Dunton to the prom on May 8. When asked about the most exciting part of the prom, Debbie was proud to announce Chris as her date and dancing partner!
This year’s prom was held in two different locations: Presidential Caterers in East Norriton and the Philadelphia Ballroom in Philadelphia. Starting next year, they will host two a year in Pittsburgh.