This charming photo of a handsome Marine escorting a young lady to a dance has been circulating around Twitter for a while with a tweet saying the girl had been bullied. But when the dashing Marine became her gallant escort to the Cinderella Ball, the evening was understandably bully-free.
It turns out there’s much more behind the photo, however.
Every year since 2006, an organization called The House Inc Student Leadership Center has hosted “A Cinderella Ball” for military children living with disabilities or life-threatening illnesses. Not just one girl gets to walk through an archway formed by 40 crisply dressed Marines with their swords held high; all the kids get the fantasy treatment that evening.
A press release describes the event as “a fairy-tale prom experience” for the kids in grades 4 thru 12:
The Ball features entertainment, dancing, awards and banquet for children who otherwise may not experience this type of social engagement. A Cinderella Closet precedes the annual event, where each student guests receives his or her choice of prom apparel. They arrive on a red carpet, through a Marine ceremonial sword arch, to the Ball where Cinderella is waiting inside.
A Patch reporter’s description of the 2012 Cinderella Closet event makes it clear the mere act of selecting their ball attire (which is donated by people from around the the country and given to the children to keep) is almost as much giddy fun as the ball itself:
The students also experience the “Cinderella treatment” of being transformed into a prince or princess with volunteers ready to help each and every student find the perfect outfit and professional seamstresses ready to make alterations.
Once they pick out and try on the dress/tux they want, each student is escorted by one of The House’s volunteers—mostly students who are part of the center’s leadership programs—down a red carpet to the applause of the whole room. He or she is then taken to the accessory tables where girls are assisted in choosing from an array of jewelry, gloves, tiaras or headpieces, shoes and purses, and the boys have their pick of vests, ties, cufflinks, shoes, and pocket handkerchiefs.
At the shoes table, one of the volunteers was giving lessons to a girl on how to walk in high heels. “We have mastered the high heels,” she proclaimed triumphantly as they walked towards the girl’s family….
A blind boy felt his way through the tuxes and another girl using a cane practiced walking on high heels. Two other girls, hand-in-hand, were perusing the jewelry table, while a girl with Down Syndrome in a hot pink dress peered closely at herself in a full-length mirror.
Past years’ balls have featured entertainment from performers such as Mary Mary, Jordin Sparks and Rueben Stoddard.
As The House president Helen McCormick said, “Less than one percent of Americans dutifully serve in uniform today but bear 100 percent of the burden of defending our nation.” It’s lovely that this special population in the military community gets an evening devoted to them for all their families do.
The House, Inc. accepts tax-deductible contributions for A Cinderella Ball. The 2014 event will be held on June 8 at The Willard InterContinental hotel in Washington, DC, with Rep. Tammy Duckworth serving as the honorary chairman.