LVIB Prom is a Bright Spot for Visually Impaired Teens

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Photo caption: Jeovanny Diaz and Sierra Poth were crowned 2021 Prom King & Queen by the 2019 Chasco Coronation Ball King Pithla & Queen Chasco, Paul Friedlander & Lisa Shippy-Gonzalez.

On Saturday, May 15, the Lighthouse for the Visually Impaired and Blind held its 2021 Prom. Each year, the Lighthouse hosts a prom for teens with visual impairment or blindness, however Saturday’s event was extra special since the prom was cancelled in 2020 because of the pandemic.

Stefanie Pontlitz, Lighthouse CEO said: “It was such a joy to watch our youth at the 2021 Prom. They are just normal teens who love music, dancing and friends. To see them in an environment where they feel confident and safe and can enjoy Prom the way it was meant to be enjoyed, you can’t help but leave with a huge smile on your face.”

The teens gathered at the New Port Richey Lighthouse before the prom to prepare—volunteers from local businesses and the community helped them with hair, nails, and attire. Then the teens rode in a party bus as a way to kick off the festivities which also included a lot of dancing, reconnecting, and the coronation of our 2021 Prom King and Queen presented by King Pithla Paul Friedlander and Queen Chasco Lisa Shippy-Gonzalez.

There were several touching moments during the night which included the group being cheered onto the party bus, teens dancing with joy, and a new teen becoming “one of us” as he was led to the dance floor by his new group of peers.

Lighthouse holds an annual prom for teens who are visually impaired or blind so they can experience an event tailored to their needs with all their Lighthouse friends. Lighthouse offers year-round programs for teens that are focused on the development of skills needed for a successful transition to higher education, employment, and living independently. At the start of the pandemic, Lighthouse served the teens through Zoom video chats, conference calls, and supplemented training by dropping off educational materials. Then we added in-person services.

Each summer teens are provided an in-person summer camp where they learn various work skills in the community and are taught the skills they need to gain competitive employment. The Lighthouse Prom was sponsored in full by Kelly Pest Control. Additional highlights were provided by Kelly McKnight of ABCO Printing and Captain Wendy Longman of Windsong Charters. Special thank you to the LVIB Prom Committee, Kohl’s at Ridge Road & Delta Gamma Sorority Alumnae – Tampa Chapter volunteers, our reigning 2021 Chasco Coronation Ball King Pithla and Queen Chasco, Hits 106, J. David Wright, and many more. For more information about the Lighthouse and the teen program, visit www.lvib.org. Photos of the event can be viewed at https://photos.app.goo.gl/ydVs458WSn6mWaom7.

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