DEMAREST, N.J. -- Prom season is already underway for a select group of students at Northern Valley Regional High School at Demarest.
Senior Kevin Doran launched a GoFundeMe page for what will be a chance for students with autism to dress up, dance and drink some fruit punch for the second year in a row at Florentine Gardens in River Vale.
It had already raised nearly $4,500 in just a few days.
Doran came up with the idea after his older cousin wondered why he couldn't go to his class prom. School officials suggested holding one in the gym, but Doran wanted more.
“I really wanted something special for the kids that would match up to what all the other kids would have,” he told Daily Voice.
Program leaders from Access, which teaches students on the autistic spectrum, were skeptical, said school psychologist Dr. Mark Lampert, but Doran was passionate.
Opened to junior high school students, last year's prom attracted 30 teens from the program – in addition to more than two dozen student volunteers.
“We told them, ‘Be yourself on a dance floor’ and you couldn’t tell who was part of our program and who wasn’t,” Lampert said.
Lampert is expecting even more this year.
“They’ve been looking forward to the next one since the last one ended,” Doran said.