Kelsey and Keaton's friendship was a match made in seventh grade.
A lot of time was put into sophomore varsity cheerleader Kelsey Sweeney’s homecoming proposal for a shot at Keaton Wilburn, a freshman with Down syndrome. First, she sought permission from his mother, and then she spent some time with the girls who sit with him at lunch, explaining what homecoming proposals were all about, so they could help her before she decided to approach him at lunch. Kelsey even had his mom go on YouTube and show him various homecoming proposals, so that he would understand what was going on, when she made her move.
On the day of the proposal, Kelsey presented her decorated sign that read: “Keaton, will you be my date to the dance?”
“His face lit up like there was no tomorrow,” Kelsey said. “His happiness went through the roof!” Of course, Keaton agreed.
The two met a few years ago, back in middle school, when Kelsey volunteered with Best Buddies International, a program designed to create one-on-one friendships, and they have been good friends ever since.
“Over the years, my friendship with Keaton has grown so strong into a bond that is unbreakable,” she said. “Keaton always knows how to put a smile on everyone's face; he's one of those people that bring such a positive feeling with him wherever he goes.”
That smile was on display Friday night during the halftime show, when Kelsey and Keaton both won homecoming prince and princess for their grade levels.
The following night, they gathered with a group of friends and danced the night away at the homecoming dance.
“I know Keaton loves to dance and would love to go to homecoming, so I asked him to go with me,” Kelsey said. “Later that night, he thanked me multiple times for him having "the best night.”
Keaton’s homecoming selection and Kelsey’s proposal to him has made Orlando’s WESH Channel 2 News and Z88.3 FM radio show.
Kelsey is starting a Best Buddy chapter at Matanzas, and, when Keaton began attending, she wanted him to have a great experience and make a lot of friends, which he does.
“The friendship I have with Keaton is something I wouldn't give up for the world,” she said. “He's my best friend, and I couldn't be happier.”
Keaton and Kelsey will be participating in Fun Coast Down Syndrome Association’s 10th-annual Best Buddy Walk at 10 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 10, at the Flagler Airport. This past Saturday, Keaton exhibited his dancing skills. This upcoming weekend, he will be singing the national anthem.
So much for the stereotypical cheerleader story, right? Congratulations, Keaton Wilburn and Kelsey Sweeney.