An Invitation to Remember

Global praise for student's "promposal"

He wanted her to be his prom date, and he did not care about their differences.

Luis Velasquez, Jr. did not see Tiffany Gay as a peer with special needs. He saw her as special.

"Huge heart. There's no difference between me and her. Huge heart. We're both human and we both have hearts.," said Luis, an 18 year-old junior at Natalia High School. "I see her as Tiffany Gay. She's a very special girl that goes to my school. That's been there for me all the time."

On Tuesday, Luis got his principal to sign off on his request to stage a fire drill, so he could ask Tiffany to his school's junior-senior prom. He got the school to play her favorite song. Bruno Mars. "Just the Way You Are." He bought her roses. Classmates lined a sidewalk in front of the school and held up signs of support. "P-R-O-M?" read the signs.

Overwhelmed by the attention and the request, Tiffany cried at first. Then she said yes.

"I was like what if she tells me no," Luis recounted. "I had no idea if she would have said yes or no, so I was just hoping she would say yes."

"I thought when she was crying she was going to tell me no," he said. "She got emotional. I wanted to get emotional."

Their classmates broke into applause. It was an invitation to remember, a "promposal" pulled off by a young man with extraordinary polish and poise.

"She wished that a boy would just ask her out. He did," said Tiffany's grandmother Karen Prine. "She come (sic) home yesterday and said all the pretty girls in the school and he asked me mama. He asked me."

His mom posted a video of it all to her Facebook page where it got 3.2 million views in 48 hours. To help put this in perspective, the entire school district in Natalia has fewer than 1200 students.

"I didn't expect anything on the internet. The only reason I recorded it was because my mom wanted to see it," said Luis about the worldwide praise for his compassion and creativity.

One day after the "big ask," the prom couple got together for the first time since the "promposal" to talk about what happened and what is ahead.

"You'll have your hair done. Your nails done. Your makeup. But I want a lot of pictures," interjected Luis' mother, Jessica, over a conversation at the family's restaurant, Coby's Cafe, in Lytle, Texas.

Luis's parents and Tiffany's grandmother gushed with pride about how the middle linebacker on the football team followed his heart to his special date.

"He made us real proud. My hat's off to him," said Luis's father, Luis Velasquez Sr. "There aren't any words. He's a great kid," said his mother Jessica. "Thank you," she said to Tiffany. "You made one of his dreams come true. And I'm so happy for y'all"

"Most people are scared to talk to a kid with special needs. He wasn't scared. And he just did it," said Tiffany's grandmother. "She's just like everybody else. She has her problems. But she drives to succeed. She's been on the A/B honor roll since she started school in Natalia. He's just always seen her as Tiffany."

This will be Tiffany's first date ever. But they've danced together before -- back in the 7th grade at a school party. He stepped up and asked.

Ever since, Tiffany has had a crush on Luis. She has baked him cookies for every holiday, and both times he had knee surgery because of football related injuries.

"Holidays, Christmas. You name it. I always get cookies," he said. "I want to take her to the prom so she can know I'm grateful for everything she does for me."

"He's a regular boy with a kind heart," said Tiffany, with encouragement from her grandmother who asked Tiffany to express her feelings about Luis.

Tiffany, a 16 year-old sophomore, has a rare genetic disorder, called Prader Willi Syndrome. She's extremely short. Her speech is limited. She is diabetic, yet she has a chronic feeling of hunger than can turn into life-threatening obesity.

"Does Luis make you feel like a princess?" I asked her.

"Yes," she replied softly but with a broad smile, as her brow furrowed and her hands fidgeted. It was clear she did not like being the center of attention.

"Does he make you feel special?"

"Yes," she said emphatically and without hesitation, shaking her head.

"Does he make you feel loved?" The head nods picked up speed. The smile widened.

"She's warm-hearted. She's beautiful inside and out," said Luis.

"Most people don't realize when they have special needs, just go talk to them. You find out they're worth talking to," said Tiffany's grandmother. "They're fun. They're fun to talk to. She makes us laugh all the time."

Luis's parents plan to close their restaurant the night of the prom on May 23rd, so their son can enjoy a private, candlelight dinner with his date. Steak and lobster will be served at the request of their son.

"Every dance that she wants, we're going to do," said Luis with a big smile to Tiffany.

"We can even do the hokey pokey too if you want."

The families have set up a GoFundMe page to help make Tiffany's dream prom happen. You can click here to help.


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