Ben Moser and Mary Lapkowicz were fourth-grade classmates when he promised her he’d take her to prom. And on May 8, seven years later, he did just that.
Very sweet, but it's just another boy-meets-girl story, right? Hang on: There's more to it than that.
Mary has Down syndrome, and Ben is the quarterback of his high school’s football team in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
"Watching Ben and Mary in 4th grade always made me smile," their teacher, Tracey Spogli, told TODAY. "Ben was always so protective of Mary and genuinely cared for her, and it was evident in his actions and words. He would keep an eye on her, just wanting her to be happy and involved in our classroom activities."
Ben and Mary remain firm in their belief that there’s nothing particularly noteworthy or extraordinary about their relationship. Ben sees the humanity in Mary (and vice versa), and the two are content to leave it at that.
"I thought Mary was really cool," Ben told the The Patriot-News.
"He was sweet," added Mary simply.
Ben remembers that when he was in fourth grade, he told his mother that he’d bring Mary to prom when he got old enough.
But two years later, the two were separated. Mary changed school districts and began assisting her father, a math teacher, with her new school’s football team in the Central Dauphin school district. Ben also had football on his mind, playing as quarterback for Susquehanna.
As fate would have it, Susquehanna and Central Dauphin were matched up against one another last year, and Ben and Mary were reunited.
That’s when Ben realized he could go through with his promise after all. With help from his family, who had followed the story since the kids were young, he purchased balloons and wrote “PROM” on them.
The rest, of course, is history. “I presented her with the balloons and asked her to go to prom with me,” Ben said.
Ben’s mother, Linda Moser, expressed her great pride and happiness in a Facebook post.
“Today was probably the proudest I have ever been of my son in his lifetime to date!" she wrote. "He has grown into a man with a big heart, a deep sense of putting others first, and most of all making people feel special and loved."
“Today with joyful tears in my eyes and down my face I watched a promise made, 7 years ago, to a beautiful girl fulfilled.”
Mary revealed later that she was planning on just going with some of her friends. “I was surprised,” she smiled. But she was elated to have the chance to attend with a real date.
It seems there’s only one problem, then — and that’s the fact that they go to competing high schools.
But Ben poked fun at the rivalry. "There [are] good kids there,” he conceded.