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Helping plan a second-chance prom to raise money for Project Lifesaver are Mason Copeland, Deneen Evans, Pam King and Gary Lassiter, pictured at Suffolk Fire and Rescue headquarters on Kings Fork Road. Demonstrating what proceeds from the event will help fund, Copeland holds a piece of tracking equipment, worth upward of $1,000, and Evans shows a transponder that costs $300.
Helping plan a second-chance prom to raise money for Project Lifesaver are Mason Copeland, Deneen Evans, Pam King and Gary Lassiter, pictured at Suffolk Fire and Rescue headquarters on Kings Fork Road. Demonstrating what proceeds from the event will help fund, Copeland holds a piece of tracking equipment, worth upward of $1,000, and Evans shows a transponder that costs $300.

Archived Story

Second chance at the prom

Published 10:28pm Friday, March 15, 2013

High school graduates who couldn’t find a date all those years ago, or anyone who didn’t do prom for any other reason, can next month experience the big night while also raising money for a worthy cause.

The Suffolk chapter of Project Lifesaver International, which uses technology to help first responders find missing people with cognitive disorders like Alzheimer’s disease, autism and Down syndrome, is planning a second-chance prom for April 27.

The Suffolk chapter got the fundraiser idea from its Chesapeake counterpart, which has successfully held second-chance proms for the past three years, Suffolk Fire and Rescue’s Lt. Mason Copeland said.

“Based on their success, we thought we’d give it a try,” he said. “If it’s successful, we’ll do more; if it’s not, we’ll take a different route.”

The costly program, which receives no local, state or federal funding, uses tracking equipment to locate people prone to wander and who are fitted with transmitters.

The program’s 41st client in Suffolk is due to be signed on Wednesday, Copeland said, adding that about 27 clients suffer Alzheimer’s or dementia, while the rest are younger clients with autism or Down syndrome.

Those who can are encouraged to pay $5 a month, but the program is otherwise free to clients. Transponders cost $300 each, and each set of tracking equipment, of which the program aims to have two for each fire station, costs between $1,000 and $1,300.

“We exist on donations, grants and fundraisers,” Copeland said. “This is the way we are able to keep the program equipped.”

The program gives families peace of mind and saves city resources in tracking people down, he added.

The “prom” fundraiser will be held at the Planters Club from 6 p.m. to midnight. A band, Bad Influence, will play ‘60s, ‘70s and ‘80s music from 9 to 11 p.m., preceded by a disc jockey, 911 DJ, from 8 to 9 p.m.

The DJ, assistant fire marshal Gary Lassiter, reported that the music selection will “depend on what people ask for. Everybody wants to dance, so we will probably be playing ‘70s, ‘80s, and a mix of up-to-date music.”

Cocktail hour will take place from 6 to 7 p.m., and dinner is from 7 to 8 p.m.

“We’re asking people to dress to impress,” Copeland said, “(However) you don’t have to rent a tux.”

A professional photographer will be available for photos against the picturesque Nansemond River backdrop, and there will also be a silent auction or goodwill drawing, with all proceeds going to the program, he said.

Copeland said he suggested to a couple John Yeates High School friends that they use the event as a school reunion, and he encouraged others to do the same.

He also welcomed the idea of limo-hires for those wanting to recreate a fuller prom experience, noting it would have the added benefit of negating the need for a designated driver.

“If they want to do that, that would be perfectly acceptable with us,” he said

Tickets for the event are $75 per couple or $40 for individuals. RSVP by emailing bravestbul77@hotmail.com or call 754-8787.

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