- Associated Press - Saturday, May 9, 2015

WILLARD, Mo. (AP) - A southwest Missouri high school student with Down syndrome has taken home the prom king crown after sharing with a friend that receiving the honor was a dream.

Spencer Buttram, who was named Willard High School prom royalty earlier this month, met his friend Levi McGinnes through basketball, The Springfield News-Leader (https://sgfnow.co/1H2iZPk ) reports. Buttram was the manager, while McGinnes played on the team.

“We had a friendship in the locker room before the game and after the game,” McGinnes said. “We really connected.”

McGinnis also had been nominated for the honor but said his friend’s smile is “more important than mine.” Word quickly spread of Buttram’s wish to be prom king, and he was selected to be part of the royal prom court.

Over the years, Buttram got some extra help in school but enrolled in mostly regular classes alongside peers without special needs. He was part of marching band and choir and participated in many activities - organized by the district - to encourage friendships between students with special needs and others.

“These kids have grown up with him and they see him for who he is,” Sheryl Buttram said of Spencer, the middle of her three sons. “They see him for his abilities, not his disabilities.”

Her son’s date for the night was Laura Owen, 19, of Marshfield, whom he has been dating for years. She also has Down syndrome.

Chauffeured by parents, the couple went out to dinner and then planned to spend the first part of the night at the Marshfield High School prom. As they were leaving to go to the Willard prom, Sheryl Buttram received a text from McGinnis to hurry.

Spencer Buttram and Laura Owen arrived at the Willard prom just in time. The voting was over. Candidates for prom king and queen were summoned up on stage, where Spencer Buttram unwrapped a rose that revealed he was prom king. Spencer’s top hat was replaced with a white crown and the “king” sash was placed across his chest.

“He had the biggest smile on his face. His smile was indescribable,” said McGinnis whose date, Dylan Owens, was named prom queen. “His being prom king made my night.”

A few minutes later, the newly crowned queen - who has known Spencer since they were in preschool together - led Spencer to the dance floor.

“I was very happy - just happy,” Spencer Buttram said Wednesday. “My dream was to be prom king.”

___

Information from: Springfield News-Leader, https://www.news-leader.com


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