In my home state of Utah, it is not uncommon for teens to ask each other to dances in elaborate ways. (I even remember a boy once asking my sister to a dance by leaving a puppy on our porch.)
Yet sadly for one young man, Michael Conrad, who has ADHD and autism, the invitation was actually a very cruel prank.
The note was signed by a friend of Michael’s, but when he later approached the girl to give her his answer, she informed him that she didn’t leave the note and was already attending the dance with somebody else.
The hoax left Jennifer Conrad, Michael’s mother, understandably furious.
“I was out for blood,” she told KSTU. “Mama bear was awoken.”
Fortunately for mother and son, a kindhearted stranger — Miss Greater Salt Lake Dexonna Talbot, who heard about the prank from her mother — decided to ask Michael to attend homecoming with her, right in front of all of his peers!
Talbot tells Babble that she was brokenhearted when she heard about the cruel hoax that was played on Michael.
“I’ve grown up surrounded by family members and friends having special needs,” she explains. “Being a peer tutor for the special education program as well as interning for special education elementary schools leaves me with a soft spot in my heart. I wanted to do anything I could to make sure Michael had the best homecoming!”
Talbot says that she wanted to be sure to ask Michael at his school in person, “so those who were bullying him could see that something good was coming of this.” She visited him at school with his favorite candy, Starburst, and a poster that read: “I am bursting with excitement to take you to homecoming!”
According to Talbot, Michael was quick to agree to be her date for the special evening, and it ended up being an extravagant and memorable event.
“We had lots of people reach out to donate their time and services to make sure the evening was unforgettable,” says Talbot.
The couple went to an arcade during the day, where Talbot says Michael beat her at air hockey. They were also chauffeured around courtesy of the Karl Malone Toyota dealership, treated to dinner at one of Salt Lake’s most upscale restaurants, La Caille, and even had professional photos taken, thanks to Chad Braithwaite with Faces Photography.
At the dance, Talbot says they were greeted by the principal and Michael’s teacher.
“Michael tore it up on the dance floor,” she says, adding that the other students were very inclusive towards him.
When asked if she has a message for the students who bulled Michael, Talbot says she wants them to know that “kindness always wins,” and that they are missing out by being cruel to Michael rather than getting to know him.
Talbot describes Michael as being very courageous and kind.
“He was a joy to be around and a perfect gentleman,” she says.
This beauty pageant winner, who will be competing for the title of Miss Utah next year, demonstrates what true beauty is: It’s about how we treat others.
Conrad is very grateful for how homecoming turned out for her son, and for Talbot, who made it possible.
“She’s just got a tender heart,” she told KSTU. “And she has really made my son’s year.”
h/t: KSTU / Fox 13