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Menomonie student gets dream prom date, wins prom king

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MENOMONIE, Wis. (WEAU) -- When the lights go down and the Eifel Tower goes up, Menomonie Middle School's Auditorium becomes the start of a new night.

It is here where prom dates will march together, side-by-side, before the big dance. Each of them with a unique story, but one prom pair that on Saturday, everyone will remember.

"I'm going to be out there having a great time," said Charlie Gainey.

It is the night he has been eagerly awaiting since being voted into the prom court by his classmates. Problem is, he did not have a date. His dad asked which girl he wanted to go with.

"Charlie said all of them dad, all of them," said Dan Gainey, Charlie's father.

Then an idea: his family knew someone that works with Danielle Hooper, a UW-Stout student who also happens to be Miss Minnesota USA. The connection was instant.

"And I just got to meet him today and he is so sweet and charming, and I'm so excited to go with him," Hooper said.

Charlie has Down Syndrome. Danielle has a 2-year-old cousin who also has Down Syndrome.

"So that was sort of my first introduction to down syndrome and now I have soft spot for it and so when I heard about Charlie I couldn't resist," he said.

"I think she's special to me because she always makes me feel, she's the only person who inspired me to be prom king," he said.

Less than 24 hours before the prom, he is focused on getting ready for the big night, wanting to look his very best.

Their night will start out with both families having dinner, grand march, and then the dance.

"I'm gonna think about what's best for me and my date," he said.

And after more than a decade seeing Charlie grow up with love and support from his classmates, his father is excited to see all of it culminate together at the prom.

"They'll make a very striking pair, and it will be a very special moment to see them walking down the aisle together," Charlie's father said.

Sunday, we were told by Charlie's dad that Charlie won homecoming king.


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