Prom night included a stop at the zoo for two local teens

Published: Apr. 12, 2021 at 3:46 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) – Robinson High School students Oscar Valadez, 18, who has autism, and his prom date Abagail York, 15, who has epilepsy, made a pre-prom stop Saturday at the Cameron Park Zoo, where a local author was signing copies of a book she wrote in hopes of sparking conversations about those with disabilities.

“I wanted to take Abagail to the Cameron Park Zoo because I know it means a lot to her, plus, we both have disabilities ourselves and I thought it would be something that would be pretty unique and pretty interesting and fun,” Oscar said.

Author Stephanie Wolfe’s showcase, hosted by the Waco Mayor’s Committee for People with Disabilities, was for her new book ‘Authentically Addie,’ which features a character modeled after her own daughter, Addie, who was born with significant chromosomal abnormalities.

In the book, Addie goes to a zoo to visit animals that have disabilities, themselves.

Wolfe says she was moved when she spotted the two teenagers, both in formal attire, in the crowd.

“That was so special to me,” Stephanie said.

“I felt so very honored that they would choose to come to our event before such a special, special day.”

The book, which has hit several Amazon best-seller lists, is striking a chord with families, particularly special needs families around the world.

During a walk through the zoo,, Stephanie says Oscar and Abagail told her what the book meant to them.

“When Oscar and Abagail told me that ‘Authentically Addie’ made them feel represented, made them feel seen and made them feel not alone with their disabilities, that was just so touching, and I think we were all just choking back tears.”

Abagail and Oscar were thrilled to meet the author and the real-life Addie, but the two were in for another great surprise after Oscar was crowned Homecoming King of Robinson High School.

He said many supportive friends at school helped make it happen.

“Being prom king like I was surprised and not at the same time because a lot of my classmates are really there to support me and the fact that I did it for both seniors and juniors I was amazed. I was like ‘what?” he said.

Abagail is a sophomore at Robinson and says she sees her condition as “a gift God has given her and not a condition to be feared.”

She said she uses it as a tool in school and community to share with other kids that may be struggling.

Oscar graduates in May and is already looking ahead to an exciting future.

Through a counselor at Texas Workforce Solutions Vocational Rehabilitation Services, he learned of a horticulture camp at Texas A&M for younger adults with disabilities.

He plans to attend the five-week camp over the summer.

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