A soldier traveled 400 miles to his hometown and promised to be his date after learning that his friend’s young daughter with Down syndrome didn’t have a date for the prom.
When physicians informed Emily Wheeler’s mother that she had Down syndrome, Emily was only six weeks old. Her mother also discovered that she was different from other kids as she grew older. She struggled with learning.
Wheeler was deaf, yet she was able to learn sign language and communicate effectively. She is skilled at communicating her ideas and expressing her emotions.
Wheeler had a college prom when she turned 18, but she was unable to go on a date. At the time, she was unaware that Andrew Duffy, a friend of her stepfather, would be making the trip from Berwick-upon-Tweed to his residence in Devon, United Kingdom.
When Duffy learned Wheeler didn’t have a prom date in 2016, he knew precisely what to do because they had first met at his mother’s wedding in 2014. He drove to the airport in Edinburgh, took a flight to Bristol, and then went to Wheeler’s. He remembered:
Who wouldn’t want to take her to prom, I thought when I learned she didn’t have a date? I was furious with her.
Duffy, an Iraq War veteran, struggles with post-traumatic depressive illness (PTSD). He was happy to defend his country, but he had no idea that serving in the military would cause him to suffer from emotional anguish.
He believed that accompanying her to the ball had altered his life.
On June 16, 2016, he visited Wheeler’s home and asked her to go to the prom with him while also giving her flowers. The teen had her sister give her a makeover for the event, and she looked lovely in a pretty blue dress.
Wheeler was chosen as the homecoming queen later that evening. Although Duffy was pleased that she accompanied him to prom, he subsequently clarified that he didn’t do it in an effort to garner her favor.
Without her, I don’t believe I would be present today. I genuinely believe that this girl saved my life,” he declared. Duffy believed that spending time with Wheeler had always been beneficial to him. He thought the girl was relieving him of all his concerns.
Due to his PTSD, Duffy frequently felt anxious and in need of support; yet, spending time with Wheeler helped him feel better. He believed that attending to prom with her had altered his course of events, stating:
His goal in life was to serve his country. “Being with people like Emily makes you understand that there is life outside of your own difficulties. Along with that, he also felt quite pleased of himself for taking Wheeler to prom.
Duffy believed that Wheeler had “absorbed” the bad energy after spending time with her, making him feel better. He now thinks that spending time with persons who have Down syndrome can help others who are suffering from PTSD or other similar conditions.
It made Wheeler’s mother, Vikki Findlay, feel so happy to see Duffy be kind to her. She was aware that her daughter had a certain quality that made everybody adore her.
Findlay continued, “The most astonishing thing about their friendship is that the girl didn’t know she was aiding the veteran’s healing. Wheeler was always delighted to see Duffy.”
When internet users learned about Wheeler and Duffy’s situation, they were compelled to leave supportive comments.
We wish Wheeler the best and are hopeful that she and Duffy will keep their special connection improving each other’s lives. What a heartwarming tale of love and encouragement!