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'Joy Prom' set for Saturday in Locust Grove

An area church is organizing, for the fourth straight year, an evening of elegance for disabled residents in the community.

First Baptist Church of Stockbridge is sponsoring a "Joy Prom," which will be held March 19, from 5:30 p.m., to 9 p.m., at Strong Rock Christian School, located at 4200 Strong Rock Parkway, in Locust Grove.

"It's a prom for individuals with developmental and/or physical impairments," said Jay Vanderbur, associate pastor at the church, and organizer of the prom. "We just thought it was a great way to minister to the special-needs community. When we read the Bible, Jesus calls us to love, and serve our community. The special-needs community is easy to overlook. We wanted to change that."

Vanderbur and a group of church members devised the concept for the event four years ago, after visiting Providence Baptist Church in Raleigh, N.C.

"We fell in love with the idea, and wanted to bring it back to Henry County," he said.

Participants at the prom will be assigned a host, or hostess, for the night, who will accompany each person to several stations, according to Vanderbur. One will feature corsages for women, and boutonnieres for men, and another station will enable men to have their shoes buffed, he said.

Vanderbur said word-of-mouth advertising, as well as support from the Special Olympics, and People First of Henry County, resulted in a growth in popularity for the event, since its inception locally.

"The first year, we had 65 [participants]," he said. "This year, we have almost 135 registered."

Roger Moss is a member of Vanderbur's church, and is assisting him with planning the prom. A commercial contractor, Moss said volunteers from local high schools, as well as other churches, have given their time to support the occasion, in what he calls a "community effort."

"I think it demonstrates an opportunity to give unselfishly," said Moss. "It's really humbling to see people invest into other people, with no strings attached, and no expectations in return."

For more details on the "Joy Prom," e-mail Jay Vanderbur, at joyprom@gmail.com.