Prom more than a date for football player and girl with genetic disorder

by Karen L. Willoughby, |

CORNING, Arkansas (Christian Examiner) – Corning High School football player Cope Robinson saw his school's upcoming prom as more than a chance to dress up. He visualized it as a chance to do something good for someone else.

Cope goes to church with Autumn Pollard, a red-headed junior whose heart-shaped smile fills her face most all the time.

She has to use a wheelchair to get around most of the time, but she has won the hearts of her Corning High School's student body with the spirit she shows with the dancing she does with the Bobcat's mascot during the "Paw Pride" pep rallies.

Now she is set for even more dancing.

Pollard was born with Noonan syndrome, a genetic disease that causes abnormal growth and affects the heart. She stands just four feet tall and weighs 57 pounds.

As the entire 200-member student body watched one recent school day, Pollard joined the bobcat mascot in leading cheers in the school gym for an upcoming game.

On the court behind her, six people entered. Five held a 30-inch high letter sign and the sixth carried a spray of purple irises.

The mascot helped her turn and see the cards arranged to ask: P R O M ?

She did not know what the letters meant. She did not know the school hosted an annual formal dance.

She did know Cope Robinson, who walked toward her with the flowers in his hands. He is a star athlete and a popular member of their church.

Robinson bent down on one knee, held out the flowers, and invited her to the prom.

When he explained to her what a prom was, she threw her arms around his neck and her smile grew even wider.

Robinson said in an interview with ABC's Good Morning America that he thought more students should single out prom dates who people who might otherwise be overlooked or dismissed as a possible date.

He also let everyone know this would be a special time for him, too.

"It will be a big moment, you know," he said. "I will never forget this."

Pollard said she was looking forward to the "great memories."

In the meantime, she told ABC News she is most looking forward to finding the perfect prom dress, and to "hanging out with Cope."