ROXBURY, NJ - 16-year-old special education student Brandon Slater of Succasunna never attended a dance. That changed Friday, thanks to his lifelong neighbor Tara Roumes.
Because of Tara, Brandon’s first dance was a big one: The Roxbury High School Junior Prom.
Brandon attends New Beginnings in Fairfield. Tara, also 16, attends Roxbury High School. Both are juniors who live on St. Mary’s Street in Succasunna.
There’s a very special bond between Tara and Brandon. She began her friendship with Brandon at three years old and became a constant companion through childhood, even serving as his only babysitter when she was old enough to take care of him.
Ever since Tara was young, she's been scheming a way to ask her neighbor to her prom. Inspiration came recently: Brandon loves to create works of art with Legos, and that gave Tara an idea.
With some glue and a large cardboard sign she spelled out “LE GO to the Prom.” When Brandon read the sign he was excited and, with some laughter and hugs, the "promproposal" was a done deal.
“As a parent with a special needs child, tears come to my eyes when I think of how the Roumes family has treated my only child.” Brandon’s mother Sandra Slater said. “When Friends Day would come around at my son’s school, Ryan Roumes was the first to volunteer to take him."
Years later, the Roumes' siblings - Ryan, Craig, Michael and Tara - would duke it out to spend the day with Brandon at his school. Unable to hide her emotion, Slater beamed and said, “My son was taken under their wing and never treated any differently than any other child.”
Asked how he felt about going to the prom with his good friend Tara, he excitedly exclaimed, “Awesome!” He’s been telling all his teachers and school friends about the limo and being measured for a tuxedo.
He’s also asked his mom to be his second date so she can be there to watch all the fun at the Zeris Inn in Mountain Lakes, where the Junior Prom took place.
As the evening came to a close Tara said she was gratified she fulfilled her dream. “I’m so happy I could give Brandon the chance to experience something that is so memorable,” she said.
Brandon loves anything electronic, from iPads to iPhones. He often creates movies and plays games on his many devices. Tara is a talented athlete who participates in soccer, basketball and lacrosse and plans to attend college and major in journalism/creative writing.