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Prom for special needs invites Franklin attendees

Springtime is here, and that means prom time for local high schools. Prom night is a time when students come together for one last hoorah before the school year ends, but what about the students who might not be able to enjoy the typical prom experience?

One woman is offering a solution to that problem for all north Alabama teens and adults with special needs.

Chelsea Yarber, who is from Muscle Shoals, has organized a free prom for teens and adults who has special needs in the Shoals and surrounding areas, including Franklin County.

This prom isn’t the first of its kind in the area; for the past few years there was a Tim Tebow Foundation Night to Shine prom in the Shoals, but there won’t be one this year – which spurred Yarber’s involvement.

“I had a few moms reach out to me about how there wasn’t anything going on this year for them,” Yarber said. So she decided to take up the cause and organize this unique event herself.

Special needs and trauma causes hold a special place in Yarber’s heart for a few reasons. Yarber said when she was 19 months old, she fell off a poorly-constructed balcony and suffered a traumatic brain injury. She made a full recovery, and when she was older she decided to pay it forward and start her own non-profit organization, “Chelsea’s Cause: Putting Safety First.”

Yarber later competed in Miss Alabama for four years and partnered with and raised funds for the Children’s Miracle Network.

Now she is partnering with the community to provide this prom for teens and adults with disabilities, special needs or who have experienced trauma of some sort.

“We want to get as many there as we can safely,” she said.

The prom will be held at the Tuscumbia Depot and Roundhouse. Businesses and individuals from Franklin, Colbert and Lauderdale counties have donated food, money, decorations and time to make this event possible. One woman from Franklin County who wished to remain anonymous donated about 100 prom dresses for attendees to select from and wear.

“It’s been an awesome community event,” Yarber said.

Teens and adults from Franklin, Colbert and Lauderdale counties are welcome to attend the April 27 prom, which will be held from 5-8 p.m. There will be handicap-accessible parking, and the Tuscumbia trolley, which has a wheelchair lift and is handicap-accessible, will also be available.

For more information and to sign up to attend, contact Yarber at