Janai Bell's son, Clarence "CJ" Dorsey, was born with Down syndrome and has been "counted out since birth," his mother said.
"When he was born they told me he wouldn't walk, he wouldn't talk, he wouldn't do anything," Bell said. "They said he'd be a 'house pet,' that's what the doctor actually said to me."
But 19 years later, CJ is far from a homebody. He has a job at Delaware County Memorial Hospital, he has his advanced yellow belt in karate and after this weekend, he also has an amazing story to tell about his senior prom.
On Saturday, CJ and his best friend since 8th grade, 18-year-old Jennifer Cassidy, who also has Down syndrome, rode to Upper Darby High School's senior prom in style with a little help from the Upper Darby Police Department.
"I wanted to make a big deal about his prom, so I said 'How can I do it big?'" Bell, 42, said. "I said 'Horse and carriage! That's the way to go.'"
Unsure if she'd need a special permit to allow her son and his date to take a horse and carriage the three miles from her home on Springton Road to the Drexelbrook Catering and Special Event Center, where the Upper Darby High School prom was held, Bell called up Upper Darby's top cop, Superintendent Michael Chitwood.
"Mom wanted to know if they needed a license for a horse and carriage, then she wanted to know if I'd send them off," Chitwood said. "I said, not only will I do that, I'll do a police escort. I told them I'd do whatever I could to make it extra special."
So on Saturday, friends, relatives, police and a horse-drawn carriage gathered at Bell's house to send the young couple off. CJ wore a crown and Jennifer wore a tiara and both wore sashes designating them as royalty. There was even a red carpet rolled out for their send off.
"They weren't chosen as prom king and queen but I wanted to let them know that they were king and queen of our hearts," Bell said, of the sashes and crowns.
The carriage ride to prom - with one police escort in front and one in back - took about an hour and ten minutes, Bell said. Chitwood said the evening was a "grand slam home run."
"We gave them the VIP treatment at a VIP moment for two VIP children," he said.
Bell said her son, who "doesn't see black or white, he just sees love," had such a fun time that he came home after prom, changed and then went back out to the after-prom party at the school until 2 a.m.