To 19-year-old Maggie Doran, the annual Akron Children’s Hospital Charity Ball was a special night where she got to dress up in a formal gown, put on white gloves and pearls, and waltz with her dad, David.
To Maggie’s mom, Elizabeth, the Charity Ball was much more than that. It represented another step toward acceptance and opportunity for people with Down syndrome.
Maggie, who has Down syndrome, was one of 32 young women from local high schools selected as debutantes of the 115th annual Charity Ball.
Presented by the Women’s Board, the Charity Ball was held Thursday night at E.J. Thomas Hall in Akron.
“We were very honored to be part of it,” said Elizabeth, who lives in Bath Township with husband, David; daughters Maggie and Emily, son Michael, and 2 Golden Retriever puppies.
“It’s an honor for Maggie especially as an individual with Down syndrome. It shows the community that these individuals have a lot to offer society. It’s one more avenue where our kids are breaking barriers.”
Maggie celebrated social graduation from Revere High School last spring, and continues her education at Revere and the Cuyahoga Valley Career Center, where she will learn job skills until age 21.
Days before the Charity Ball, she could hardly contain her excitement.
“My cousin and her boyfriend are coming, and 2 aunts and uncles,” she said. “I’m going to be presented by my dad. We have to practice the waltz.”
Maggie showed off the white dress they bought at David’s Bridal. She beamed with happiness.
Maggie paid for her dress with money she earned from a summer job at Sloopy’s Sports Café in Lakeside, Ohio. She washed dishes and bused tables (but the best part was free pizza after every shift!)
She likes to work and to volunteer. She helps Elizabeth with volunteer work at their church, and through Bath Volunteers for Service, she rang the Salvation Army bell this Christmas season.
“We’re proud of Maggie,” Elizabeth said. “Through occupational therapy and physical therapy, she’s come a long way. We always hear compliments about her job skills. She’s a very hard worker.”
Maggie also enjoys writing in a journal and physical activities. She is part of cheerleading squad for special needs students, and she participates in dance, fitness and the Special Olympics in basketball and bowling.
“I have a great life with my family and my dogs,” she said.
Maggie is the oldest of 3. David and Elizabeth adopted Emily, 16, and Michael, 6, and they had also cared for other children as foster parents for 6 years.
Amy Bowers, vice-chair of the Charity Ball and president of Bath Volunteers for Service, invited Maggie to be a debutante.
Maggie gets nervous about everything, but not about the ball, Elizabeth said. “I kept asking if she was nervous and she said, ‘No, I got this down.’”
Maggie danced all night. She said over and over what an awesome time she was having.
“I saw people’s eyes open when they saw her,” Elizabeth said. “People came up to us and said what a great job we did, how beautiful she looks. It makes people less apprehensive about approaching a person with special needs.
“People were rooting for her. Everybody got applause, but you could hear some ‘awws’ from the audience when she came out. She shined like a star.”
Elizabeth choked up as she reflected on how far Maggie has come.
“The day she was born, who would have thought she would be where she was last night.”