When Kristi Neal was scanning the middle school website where Brian* attends school and saw the Mother-Son dance, she knew that she had to step in. Kristi has been Brian's advocate for four years and has been deeply committed to his opportunity to thrive over that time, refusing to give up on him. This occasion was no different, and she immediately called Brian to discuss the school dance. “Oh, that stupid dance? No one is going”, said Brian after she asked if he had heard of it. Kristi chimed in that she thought it would be fun and asked Brian if he would go with her. Brian quickly changed his mind, responding, "You mean the dance? Sure! Really? Yes, that sounds like fun! You want to go together? I'm going to be nervous!" "Let's be nervous and happy together!" said Kristi, and the plan was set in motion.
The big night came, Kristi and Brian arrived at the dance with bells on. Brian came alive as he spent time in an environment where he just enjoyed being a kid with the safety and support of his advocate. Kristi said Brian loved playing with the balloons all around the room, and when he wasn't running around being silly, he happily danced with her and even let her teach him how to dance! Kristi received unsolicited remarks from Brian’s school teachers and administration about how well he is doing in school now and how they wish there were more kids like him. Kristi relayed that all of Brian’s interactions throughout the night made her so proud. Watching him have so much fun brought her joy——a testament to the deep care Kristi has for Brian.
Brian expressed his gratitude to Kristi throughout the night time and time again. An event that easily could have contributed to feelings of isolation and sadness for Brian was changed for good as he was able to attend the dance with someone he could trust and who he knew cared for him.
This is the type of life changing work that each of our advocates are committed to every day, and Kristi is a prime example of what it means to be a light in the life of a child who needs one. We are so thankful for Kristi and advocates like her who go above and beyond to truly make a difference!
*Names were changed to help protect parties of the story.