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O-A casts nearly unanimous vote for Prom Queen with Down syndrome

By Billie Owens

Colleen Fisher just may be the most popular Prom Queen ever selected at Oakfield-Alabama High School.

In a landslide of ballot votes, the 18-year-old garnered all but about two votes to be crowned at the junior/senior prom held at Stafford Country Club.

She is a graduating senior, very well liked, who happens to have Down syndrome.

“She is a wonderful young girl,” said High School Principle Lynn Muscarella.

Colleen’s teacher says Colleen’s thrilled with the honor.

“She’s on Cloud 9,” teacher Adrienne Fuore told Muscarella. “Being named Prom Queen has made her whole year.”

And it has been a busy one. She studies basic life skills for a half-day, then takes vocational classes --called the West Program – at Boces.

In addition, she’s been active in Drama Club and this year she started learning how to play clarinet.

For the spring musical presention, the musicians all learned a song that Colleen could perform on her clarinet. It was the traditional standard “Hot Cross Buns.” She also played the final song with the group and the audience was delighted.

“I’ve never seen or heard of anyone with Down syndrome being named Prom Queen,” Muscarella said. “I am just so proud of my kids here. It tells you a lot about them.”

Colleen's mother, Dawn Fisher, said the event was the highlight of her daughter's senior year.

"She was excited about the prom in general, about life, and when she won she yelled 'I won!'" Dawn said. "It is awesome that the kids chose her. They recognized her. It was very selfless of them."

Prom royalty pictured on top, from left: Princess Randi Zakes, Prince Nathan Klos, Queen Colleen Fisher and King Kevin Beuler.

Inset above, the royal couple, King Kevin and Queen Colleen.

Down syndrome support group celebrates 20 years

By Billie Owens

The Down Syndrome Parent Support Group of Genesee County, Inc., is now 20 years old.

It will celebrate the feat at its annual Autumn Leaves Auction at 6 p.m. on Oct. 10 at the Batavia First United Methodist Church on Lewiston Road. The cost is $8 pre-sale and $10 at the door and includes a bidder number, lite meal and a fabulous dessert bar.

Call group President Dawn Fisher 948-9222 for tickets.

All items are new and donated by members, friends, and area businesses. There is a Live Auction with about 100 items that Auctioneer Dennis Bezon auctions off for the group. And there will also be a Silent Auction.

The local DSPSG was started by Kay and Rod Cook, but others were instrumental in helping get things off the ground, including Dana and Bryan Phelps, Ron and Sharon Cummings and Stephen and Mary Northrup. All have a child with Down syndrome.

Kay Cook served as the president for 18 years and the others have served on the board of directors or in an officer position.

The group has given back so much to the community and the families who have children with Down syndrome. Every year the group gives two scholarships to high school seniors who will go to college and major in a field related to developmental disabilities.

In addition, it has given big screen TVs to different ARC homes when they opened. Its family reimbursement program has helped many families with the cost of dance lessons, horse riding lessons, challenger sports programs and attorney fees for families who are setting up a special needs trust for their child with Down syndrome.

The group has had several speakers who helped educate parents about issues pertaining to Down syndrome. It also gives out camping scholarships to members who have Down syndrome.

Members of the group have benefitted from funding to attend the National Down Syndrome conferences throughout the United States and Canada. These gatherings are full of information for parents and the young adults with Down syndrome who simultaneously attend their own conference.

Many children with Down syndrome are great self-advocates and take great pride in their accomplishments. They want people to know that they are a person first and foremost who happens to have Down syndrome. They want to become an intregal part of the community.

Come and be a part of that community Oct. 10. It promises to be a great night of tasty food, great company and great bargins. This year's proceeds will go to Genesee ARC for their capital campaign to remodel the old St. Mary's School now called "The Community Center."

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