The Night Great-Grandma Went to Her First Prom and Was Crowned Queen — Thanks to Her Granddaughter, Her Great-Grandson & His Principal

Julie Huddon/Facebook

This article is one in a series at The 74 that profiles the heroes, victories, success stories and random acts of kindness found at schools all across America. Read more of our recent inspiring profiles at The74Million.org/series/inspiring.

Prom night is a chance to dress to the nines and dance the night away with friends and that special someone. Many teenagers spend four years eagerly anticipating that magical night.

Helen Danis had been waiting for more than 80 years. But this year, she finally got go to the prom — as her granddaughter’s date. And she was even named Prom Queen!

Danis, 97, told Turnto10.com that she couldn’t afford to attend prom when she was in high school. “We were in the middle of a depression, and money was scarce,” she said.

Granddaughter Julie Huddon told NBC News, “She had a tough life with a lot of memories that aren’t so happy.” Huddon later told the Washington Post, “Even though those hard times made her the strong and admirable person she is today, I wanted to do something for her to help make up for some of that.”

To give Danis some happier memories, the duo created a bucket list. In December, Danis sat on Santa’s lap for the very first time. Next on the list: the prom experience Danis never had.

Huddon, 48, contacted Pilgrim High School in Warwick, Rhode Island, where her 19-year-old son, Evan, was a student, and asked if she could come to prom with her grandmother. Naturally, the school said yes.

Then, like many high schoolers, Huddon orchestrated a promposal to formally ask Danis to be her date. “I got a crown for her and wrote her a note,” Huddon told Turnto10.com. A handwritten note in the shape of a pink heart — “How could I say no to that?” Danis told the Post. “Of course I said yes.”

Then, Huddon needed Danis to say yes to a brand-new prom dress. Luckily, Huddon found a lilac dress with a lace bodice, and she knew: “This is my grandmother, it’s screaming her name.” The dress fit perfectly.

Finally, prom night came, with Huddon and Danis dressed to impress in their gowns and matching corsages. The two took pictures with some friends and with Evan, who uses a wheelchair because of spina bifida. Then, the group took a trolley and arrived in style.

At the dance, Huddon had another surprise up her sleeve for Danis: Principal Gerald Habershaw crowned her honorary Prom Queen and then escorted her on a spin around the dance floor.

Some 300 students burst into applause — including great-grandson Evan, who dances up a storm in his power wheelchair, according to the Post. “It was such a blessing to have my great-grandmother go to prom with me, and it was even more special to see her crowned honorary Prom Queen,” he said.

“To attend the prom with my great-grandson and my granddaughter made the night even more special,” Danis told the Post. It was truly a prom for the ages.

Help fund stories like this. Donate now!

Republish This Article

We want our stories to be shared as widely as possible — for free.

Please view The 74's republishing terms.

On The 74 Today