Ben Moser and Mary Lapkowicz have been friends since elementary school. Mary has Down syndrome (the genetic disorder that causes developmental and intellectual delays), but that did not discourage Ben from befriending her. Ben remembers “I thought Mary was really cool. She was sweet and easy to get along with”.
He made a promise
Their fourth-grade teacher, Tracey Spogli, took note of their close bond. “If she was looking like she wasn’t having fun, he would go over and talk to her. He would pull her into whatever activity they were doing. He just always watched out for her”, she said. Ben told his mother that when they were old enough, he would ask Mary to go to prom with him. But the two friends were separated when Mary moved to another school district in sixth grade.
They crossed paths again
The two were reunited when their schools played each other in a football game, with Ben as the quarterback for his team. Once they were reacquainted, Ben recalled the promise he had made. Mary’s father said she talked about going to prom. But she did not know that Ben would follow up on his promise. She had initially planned to go to the event with some friends.
A beautiful surprise
Ben surprised her by writing prom on balloons and presenting them to her. Mary happily accepted and her family is grateful to him. Her brother Tom stated that “A lot of grade-school aged kids may have stayed away from my sister Mary or thought she was weird because she had Down syndrome. But not Ben. He always looked out for her, always made sure to pick her on his team at recess and even made a promise to her in 4th grade to take her to prom someday.”