Health professions students buddy up at special needs “prom”

"Buddy" Adilen Gonzalez and guest at the prom-style Night to Shine.

For most UT Health San Antonio students, prom night is an ever distant memory. For others, like first-year speech-language pathology student Adilen Gonzalez, the experience is not so far removed.

On Feb. 8, Gonzalez and nine SLP classmates took on the role of “buddy” at Morgan’s Wonderland in San Antonio for attendees of the Tim Tebow Foundation’s Night to Shine, a worldwide prom-style event celebrating people with special needs. Gonzalez, whose oldest brother has special needs, has a personal connection to the Night to Shine.

“This is my third year participating in the event, and it is an unbelievable experience,” she said. “When the opportunity arose for my class to give back … there is nowhere we would rather be.”

The student’s role as “buddies” was to accompany a guest on a night filled with fun. The evening started off with each guest making their way down a red carpet and being whisked off to a number of exciting activities, including a dance, karaoke and a photo booth.

Gonzalez believes that volunteering for this event will go a long ways towards helping her become the best future practitioner possible. “As future speech-language pathologists, we are a key component of the team that serves this community,” she said. “We are responsible for advocating and being the voice for many of our clients. This experience gave us a first-hand look at what that looks like.”

The event was a “celebration of the value of life,” she added, and gave both “buddies” and guests a night to shine.

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