FORT MILL TOWNSHIP — It was the prom that almost wasn’t for Nation Ford High School baseball players.
The team had a playoff game against TL Hanna in Anderson on the same day as the school’s prom. Frantic negotiations resulted in TL Hanna agreeing to move the May 3 game two hours earlier. But with the four-hour round trip – not counting the time to shower and change after the game – it was still likely there would be a few clock-watching prom dates waiting anxiously for the guys to get home.
Then, the game went into extra innings, and the Falcons lost 1-0.
Danny Holmes, owner of Towne Tavern on Highway 160 West, heard about the predicament from a parent of a Nation Ford student. A Nation Ford parent himself, Holmes floated an idea – a small gesture, he said – to make the teens and their parents feel a little better.
“I was thinking these kids really had this thing plopped in their lap: leave your team and go to prom, or play in the game and maybe miss prom,” Holmes said. “Usually any decision my son is confronted with has an obvious right and wrong, but these kids were in a tight spot no matter which way they’d go.”
Holmes wondered: if he decked out his private room in a prom motif, and invited players and their dates who either missed prom or got there harried and late, would that help?
“Would they even go? I didn’t know,” he said. “I called one of the moms – Melissa Helms – I know her and her husband Jeff pretty well, and reached out and said ‘this might not make all the difference in the world, this might not be the greatest idea, but what do you think?’”
Helms more than appreciated the gesture.
“To be honest, when he texted me and said he had this idea, it brought tears to my eyes,” Melissa Helms said.
“Danny has always been supportive of athletics all over Fort Mill. We’ve known him since our kids were in middle school together, but to do something like that for the guys and host them and their dates and do it for free, it allowed the parents to see them all dressed up and it was really nice. The boys said they had a really good time and it very special for all of us parents.”
The party was held Sunday evening and five players and their dates, including Helms’ son Dalton, accepted the invitation. Prom-goers were allowed to order anything on the menu free of charge and Holmes encouraged them to really order what they wanted.
“I didn’t know what would happen, but they showed up in their tuxes and dresses and seemed to have a good time. It was really cool,” Holmes said.
Holmes said that when the teens look back on it someday, they might remember more than a free meal.
“Someday, these kids will have families and when it’s time for their own kids’ proms, they’ll have a great story to tell. It might be one of those stories you remember for the rest of your life.”
Michael Harrison • 803-547-2353