Gabby Horner-Shepherd was searching for a prom date and in the end found two.
Zack Bowman, a goalie in the Ontario Hockey League, and Const. Jeremy Renton, an officer with the OPP, escorted Gabby to the prom at Waterford District High School on Saturday night.
Shannon Horner-Shepherd, Gabby’s mom, created a website and video prior to the prom searching for a special someone to take Gabby to the dance.
She said they received around 25 applications to be Gabby’s date.
Renton knew Gabby previously through his involvement in coaching her sledge hockey team. He was one of the first people to reach out after the website was made.
“I think everyone deserves to go to their prom. It would break my heart if she didn’t have a date and she didn’t get to experience that type of event,” said Renton.
He found out about the hunt through the video that Shannon had posted.
“I knew right away he was very genuine in his offer, and that’s what I wanted was someone who was very genuine and could see Gabby for who she is,” Shannon said about Renton.
Renton said that dancing the night away with Gabby was his favourite part of being her prom date.
“It was the most amazing night of my life. We closed the place down, we literally danced the whole time we were there,” said Renton.
Bowman did not have a previous connection with Gabby, and reached out to Shannon after seeing the video.
One of his friends had shared the video of Gabby and Shannon and he saw it on his phone after getting off of the ice following a hockey practice.
“I couldn’t say no. I couldn’t let her not have the time of her life that night,” said Bowman. “I was fortunate enough that Shannon congratulated me and said that Gabby was going to have two dates.”
The night was emotional for everyone involved.
“I was so happy to see Gabby smiling, she just looked incredibly beautiful,” said Bowman. “At the end I had to fight back the tears when I saw Gabby and Shannon dancing together.”
Bowman said that he was standing beside Renton watching the pair dance and Renton said, “This is what it’s all about.”
“That was the worst thing he could have said, I got so emotional. Someone cut the onions in that room, that’s for sure,” Bowman joked.
“Zack quite honestly melted my heart,” said Shannon. “His reasoning for wanting to do it was heartwarming. He never had a chance to go to his own senior prom, because of his own involvement in hockey, and that was one of his reasons.”
Gabby’s support staff Jonnelle Legault and April Guthrie got dressed up with Gabby to be there with her on her special night. Also joining the group was Shannon.
Alex Paige, a Dover resident, offered to take the photos before they headed off to prom.
Shannon said that Gabby’s favourite part of the night was her dates.
“Well, because she’s a 21-year-old girl, she was just in awe of those two. She loved the dancing, she loves being around people,” said Shannon. “There was unconditional love for her just pouring out of them.”
“They both were just phenomenal.”