The pictures, the limo, the corsage: Prom is a rite of passage no teenager should have to miss.
Thanks to a generous donation from a charity founded by Houston attorneys Steve and Amber Mostyn, special needs students from 33 schools in East Texas will be able to attend a prom of their own this year. More than 800 students, parents and school staff members are expected at “Rocking the Red Carpet” this month in Harrison County.
“It’s a lot of fun,” said Monte Osburn, executive director of the Glenda Jean Mostyn and Joe E. Moreno Educational Foundation. “The kids dance, and everyone has a great time.”
The Mostyn Moreno Foundation, as it’s more widely known, began sponsoring the prom last year. Jackie Mostyn Zigtema, the director of special education for Henderson ISD, the school district that hosted last year’s prom, is a Mostyn Moreno board member and the sister of founder Steve Mostyn. She brought the event to the foundation’s attention in the hope that Mostyn Moreno could lend a hand in fundraising.
“I asked Jackie how much Henderson needed to raise; she said $5,000, and I said, ‘deal,’” Osburn said.
The prom isn’t just slow dancing and selfie sticks. For teens with special needs, it’s also an educational opportunity that allows them to practice their social and behavioral skills outside of a classroom setting. Then there’s the emotional factor. To many students with special needs, major social events, like the prom, often seem out of reach. It’s one thing to feel included, but quite another to feel celebrated.
“Often, we take moments like these for granted, but getting to attend prom means so much more to teens with special needs,” Steve Mostyn said. “My mother, Glenda Jean Mostyn, one of the foundation’s namesakes, was a special education teacher who cared deeply about her students and understood what mattered to them. I know she would have been truly moved to know that this is her legacy.”
Thanks to Mostyn Moreno’s annual $5,000 donation, staff and educators don’t have to worry about raising the funds themselves. Instead, parents, teachers, and students can focus on having a prom to remember.
“Things like this aren’t necessarily covered in the school system’s day-to-day budget,” Osburn added. “If it weren’t for the foundation and people like Steve and Amber Mostyn, they wouldn’t happen.”