Wednesday, May 23, 2007

One Special Alternative to Abortion

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Teen dances with Dad at special prom


It looked as if Oriette Olund were going to graduate from high school without ever attending prom, just as her father did decades earlier as a shy teenager.

Then the 19-year-old was invited to the Central High School prom — by her father, Bob Olund.

The nontraditional prom couple was first in the grand march, and they danced almost every dance, the father bent to accommodate his daughter in her wheelchair.

“She means the world to me,” said Bob Olund, who owns True Value Hardware in Two Harbors. “She’s my only child, and I love her dearly.”

Oriette Olund was born three months premature weighing only 1 pound, 14 ounces. She was diagnosed with cerebral palsy, and doctors weren’t sure she would survive.

She was so tiny, Bob Olund could hold her in the palm of his hand.

“It was very scary,” Bob Olund recalled. “We thought we were going to lose her a couple of times.”

As she grew up, doctors said Oriette Olund might never smile. On Saturday night, her father gave her reason to smile.

“I heard prom was coming and nobody had asked her,” Bob Olund said, “so I figured it’d be pretty special if I asked her — so I asked, and she accepted.”

Forty years ago, Bob Olund didn’t have the courage to ask a girl to prom.

“It was worth waiting 40 years,” he said.

Saturday was a big day in the Olund household. Late in the afternoon, Bob and Oriette headed to Central, where a room was set aside for Oriette’s mother, Susan Olund, and several aunts to help get the prom date primped, curled, dressed and dusted with glitter.

“I love my daughter more than words can say,” Bob Olund said, “and I’m just happy that she’s able to go to the prom and enjoy it like every other kid. She’s going to be the prettiest girl there.”

Grand march was at 5 p.m. in the Central auditorium, and Oriette’s mother, three aunts and an uncle watched as Oriette, sparkling in beaded blue chiffon, was escorted through the lighted arch by her father.

Later came dinner for two at the Pickwick and the formal dance at the Greysolon Plaza ballroom.

As they danced into the night, other girls took notice of Oriette’s special date.

“I just think that’s really nice that someone would go out of their way to bring their date to the prom and make them feel special and wanted,” said Central student Danielle Yung. “This is one of the moments of high school.”

“I can’t even talk about it without crying really,” said Lauren Hellen. “I just think it’s the sweetest thing that he took his daughter there and I saw them dancing together.”

Before the dance Oriette surprised her father with a special gift, a framed poem that expressed a daughter’s love in words that Oriette isn’t able to say out loud.

But after the evening, she had no trouble forming the words: “I love you, Dad.”

Her date responded: “I love you Oriette; you’re a beautiful girl.” Duluth News Tribune

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