Special Needs Students Prepare for "Crystal Ball"

This Friday is the 3rd Annual Crystal Ball, a prom for people with mental and physical challenges. With the big dance just three days away, excitement is building. "They're starting to try on the dresses. They are starting to talk about the suits the gentleman are going to wear and making transportation arrangements of who's going to ride with who," says Mary Anne Eichman, Special Education Teacher at Robert E. Lee High School.
For her special students, today was a search for the perfect dress, the proper accessories, matching shoes, and a beautiful smile to complete the ensemble.
"Brides and Belles" is donating the dresses. For store owner Jo Ann Owers, the excitement each girl shows, exceeds the price of any one of the dresses.
"They don't even want to take the dresses off," she says. "I asked one of the girls 'Are you ready to take it off?' and she said, 'No.' So they just want to stay there and look at themselves. They just want it to go on and on.
"They're some that have never had a dress on like this before," Mary Anne. "So to see their face when they have this dress on. They look like a princess and they're standing there and seeing themselves for the first time in such a different way."
The theme of this years Crystal Ball is "Look at Me Now." In their gowns, these girls want others to do just that.
"You know when you get dressed up you always feel different you feel special," says Mary Anne. "It's just, I think, a wonderful experience for them."
A wonderful experience for a few girls hoping to be the belle of this Friday's ball. The Crystal Ball is Friday at the Harvey Convention Center. Tickets are still available. They are $10 in advance and $15 at the door. To purchase in advance you can go to the Community Access office at 1611 E. Fifth St. or the Community Workforce of Texas office at 6096 Copeland in Tyler.

Story by Maya Golden, mgolden@kltv.com