RACINE — Desmond Boyd has a blue tie. It’s his favorite color, and he’s set to wear it with a Men’s Wearhouse suit to Horlick High School’s prom on Saturday night.
“I’m going to be happy to wear a costume,” said Boyd, a senior Horlick of few words.
Prom is a time of joy and excitement for most high school students. a time when teenagers can often wear tuxedos and dresses for the first time in their lives; to show off his style.
But sometimes disadvantaged students can be left behind.
However, a local company has taken it upon itself to ensure that eight disabled boys are dressed in brand new clothes, to suit the night of their lives.
Tom Baker, the manager of Men’s Wearhouse at Racine, 2520 S. Green Bay Road, offered free costume rentals to eight boys with disabilities from area Horlick and Park High Schools so they could attend prom Saturday at Horlick.
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2022 is not the first time this has happened.
“Tailored Brands (parent company of Men’s Wearhouse) has an unwavering commitment to making a difference in our local communities, whether through financial or merchandise donations. We are proud that, through our designated outreach programs, we are able to nurture lasting relationships with the communities where all of our brands are located – such as supporting our Men’s Wearhouse store at the Racine School District, which dates back to the store’s first tuxedo rental donation. in 2017,” wrote Alexis Giua, a representative of Tailored Brands, in an email. “This donation was made as part of our permanent prom program, which allows our Men’s Wearhouse stores to donate two tuxedo rentals to deserving students – at the school’s discretion – at each local school each year. .
“One of our core values is nurturing our community and cultivating relationships with the individuals and organizations within it, but this year it is especially special to be able to support these students who, over the past two years, were unable to celebrate prom in the traditional sense as a result of the pandemic.”
Boyd chose his costume with the help of Baker and his teacher, Ray Cushman. Boyd, who is a dance fanatic, said his favorite part of dances is being on the dance floor with groups of people.
The eight Racine Unified students were taken to Men’s Wearhouse where their respective teachers, Cushman for Horlick and Jamie Shufelt for Park, walked them through the costume selection process with Baker.
Cushman said Baker and his team were very accommodating, making sure the boys understood the step-by-step process for donning and wearing the suits.
The boys were able to choose from several aspects of the costumes, from the colors to the style of the ties of their shoes. Each boy will have a black suit with his favorite color for his tie.
Of Baker, Cushman said, “He’s a really nice guy and he’s really looking forward to helping people be their best.”
Cushman is the Functional Adaptive Special Classroom teacher at Horlick. The program aims to help children with disabilities learn various vocational, social and independent living skills to better support them once they leave high school.
“Our programs are really community driven. Our kids would much rather go remember Tom’s name and go to Men’s Wearhouse and be like, ‘Oh, I’ve been here before and this guy helped me’ than find out who’s on the dollar bill” , Cushman said. “Understanding their surroundings and being more in their community is more functional for them. It’s better for their families because they can go to the grocery store and not have that pressure of ‘Are they going to run away from me?’ because they’ve been there before. It reinforces the community factor of how everyone is here to help each other in some way. It makes us feel like what we’re doing is good for the community as a whole.
Cushman said the FASC program takes children with disabilities to different work sites around Racine, such as the Dr. Mather Luther King Jr. Community Center, Pick ‘n Save, and Emaus Lutheran Church.
Shufelt went into more detail about how the school takes kids into more experiences than they normally can ever get on a regular basis, like going fishing and watching Milwaukee Admirals games. Shufelt said that while academics are important, at the life stage children are when they enter the employment program and life experiences become more important in children’s lives.
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