Massachusetts teen with cerebral palsy crowned prom queen at “Night to Shine”

A 17-year-old Avon girl who has cerebral palsy and was given a 10-percent chance to live at birth was crowned prom queen in a night of dancing and fun for people with special needs.

Hannah Delorey, who is non-verbal, beamed as she strutted down the red carpet to applause Friday night at “Night to Shine 2024,” sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation and hosted locally by Grace Church in Avon.

Hundreds of volunteers helped make the event magical for the guests who enjoyed dancing, karaoke and a photo booth.

An 18-year-old boy who is a friend of the family volunteered to be Hannah’s buddy for the unforgettable evening.

“Having disabilities and being non-verbal, it’s hard for her to feel included just in society – she’s always the outcast,” Hannah’s mother, Jessie Delorey said. “To be able to go to an event catered toward her and surrounded by people like her, and have that love and understanding of the challenges she has, makes her feel amazing… She feels proud that she’s being celebrated.”

When Hannah was born, she suffered multiple seizures and 40 percent brain loss. Her mother and father were told to prepare themselves to be leaving the hospital without their daughter.

“Here we are, first-time parents, and I remember sitting in the NICU with my husband, Mitch, and I said, ‘Our life is forever changed, and our job right now is to give Hannah the best opportunities for her to live her best life, whatever that might be.’”

Hannah not only survived but has thrived beyond all odds over her 17 years. She has played adaptive baseball, joined a cheerleading squad, participated in the Special Olympics, taken a dance class and done strength training in adaptive fitness classes.

“She inspires me every single day to see how hard she works despite all her challenges,” Jessie said. “It doesn’t stop her. Her ambition and her level of life, it’s just so amazing to see her thriving.”

While Hannah’s parents have made sure she has access to and inclusion in everything she wants in life, it’s Hannah herself who has provided the most profound life lessons to the adults around her.

“Hannah has taught me what true strength and determination are,” Jessie said. “She has taught me how to truly communicate without ever speaking a word. She has taught me patience – in more ways than one – and she has taught me to find joy through the good and bad.”

Jessie says her daughter has also taught her there is a range of abilities in the world and “no one ‘right’ way of walking, talking, playing or basically doing anything.”

And Jessie believes the way her daughter leads her life proves anything is possible.

“Hannah has taught me that we should never put limits on what she can accomplish,” Jessie said. “She amazes us all the time. We don’t care what her MRI looks like or what a medical professional tells us about her future. She is incredible, resilient and amazing.”

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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