Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith made a teenage girl’s dreams come true, agreeing to be a prom date for a young lady whose life has already been fraught with challenges.
As WBTV (Charlotte) reports, 18-year-old Aubrey Bridges of Dallas, North Carolina, once saw Steve Smith dancing in an online video and decided that he would be a fun prom date. Of course, Smith is an adult man and a professional football player, so taking him to prom would seem like little more than a dream to any other young lady Aubrey’s age.
But for Aubrey, even going to prom at all seemed like an insurmountable challenge: Aubrey not only has autism, but she also suffers from a rare condition known as “vein of Galen Malformation,” which makes it difficult for her to communicate. She uses sign language and a communication device.
Tonight’s Autism Awareness was Au-Some! Thank you to Brock Lineberger and Aubrey Bridges for throwing our 1st Pitch! pic.twitter.com/K23UQg5dC0
— Bess. City Baseball (@BCity_Baseball) April 6, 2016
Still, Aubry Bridges has never let her disabilities stand in the way of achieving her dreams, as her WBTV reporter Molly Grantham explained when she profiled the young lady for her segment Molly’s Kids.
“Despite the disorders impacting Aubrey in marked ways, [Molly’s eighth-grade teacher] says her former student’s academic ability has flourished. She will graduate in June with a regular diploma, volunteers at her church, hangs out with friends, watches sporting events and likes to cook ‘good Southern food.’ Even though Aubrey can’t verbalize most things, she can say ‘I love you’.’ She taught me about good attitude. She loves everyone no matter their life situation.”
Now a high school senior and looking toward every high school student’s rite of passage — prom — Aubrey needed a date. With help from Grantham, Aubrey got into contact with the Dream On 3 organization, which helps kids with difficulties fulfill their sports wishes.
Brandon Lindsey, the founder of Dream On 3, says that when he approached Smith about being Aubrey’s prom date, Smith didn’t hesitate.
“Only, honestly, we didn’t have to get him excited. The second we asked him if he wanted to participate, he said he wanted to ask her himself. That it was the guy’s job to ask the girl. He was in from the beginning, just because he wanted to be. He was fantastic.”
Smith surprised his prom date by showing up at her family’s home the week before the big day, surprising her with diamond earrings and a necklace. He did it with no cameras around and no reporters — it was all a complete surprise. He says he wanted to do the right thing and make her night special because he didn’t want prom to be their first date.
One the big night, Smith showed up in a stretch limo and whisked the young lady away to her dream date.
Smith, though recovering from an injury, danced with Aubrey and the other kids, posed for pictures, and, by all accounts, was a gracious and friendly guest of the North Gaston High School prom attendees.
Even better for Audrey: After the festivities, her fellow students voted her Prom Queen.
— Molly Grantham WBTV (@MollyGrantham) April 24, 2016
Smith, for his part, says that overcoming her disabilities and managing to secure a prom date shows just how determined Aubrey is to live her best life.
“All these obstacles that she has been through. The high expectations her family has put on her. The fact she has met them all. That’s how we should know her. That’s the label I think she deserves. ‘Aubrey. The Girl Who Has Overcome the Challenges.’ Not ‘Aubrey. The Autistic Girl.'”
Are you impressed that Steve Smith took a disabled girl to prom?
[Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images]