NEWARK — Former New York Giants punter Steve Weatherford once again helped several students’ prom dreams come true Monday at Newark’s Barringer High School.
“To be able to leverage my athletic success and notoriety to kind of give them the gift of attending their senior prom, is very special to me,” the Super Bowl winner said.
“I remember how fun (prom) was,” he added. “The memories and friendships that kind of culminate on your senior prom night is something that I hold very dear.”
Dickinson High School students have a lot to say on social media about tonight’s prom with New York Giants punter Steve Weatherford.
This is the third straight year of the professional athlete’s “Project Prom,” an all-expense-paid prom contest which he started in 2014 at a South Jersey school whose community had been hard hit by Hurricane Sandy. He also attended the Bayonne High School prom in 2014 after a senior asked him to be her date on Twitter. Weatherford has since been using his name and influence to motivate students to achieve their dreams with hard work and determination.
Last year, several lucky students from Dickinson High School in Jersey City received all-expense-paid proms from Weatherford, and the married father even accepted one student’s invitation to prom, later posing for photos with her at prom and sitting at her prom table. The Giants also reduced prom ticket expenses for every senior with a $25,000 donation.
Despite being let go from the Giants in Sept. 2015, Weatherford came back to Project Prom this year.
The winners at Barringer, who Weatherford announced in person on Monday morning after 16 finalists were named, are: Yanette Ortiz, Briana Vera, Johnathan Carcamo, Amanda Dominguez, Grace Appiah, and Imani Mitchell.
The six students won because they wrote essays on cyber bullying that moved a panel of judges, which did not include Weatherford. In all, about 50 students submitted essays, officials said.
Dominguez said she wrote about her cousin’s experience with online “slut-shaming.”
“I came and I gave her that support and advice,” she said. “I’m still in shock (I won).”
All the winning students will be offered free tuxes, gowns, hair, makeup, flowers and transportation to their June prom for them and/or their dates, and Weatherford will attend their prom as well. This gift was made possible by Weatherford’s World Champion Foundation and Next Level Training, which is helmed by Weatherford’s friend Donald Shauger, and their co-sponsor, bullying reporting app STOPit, officials said.
According to school administrators, prom expenses, which cost hundreds of dollars, are a big deal for the school. About 72 percent of students at the school qualify for free or reduced lunch, according to the state.
“So that all the kids would embrace (the essay), we made it an assignment in the classrooms,” said Barringer High School Principal Crystal Breedlove. “To write an essay, they have to analyze, synthesize, it’s a lot of what we’re doing in our classroom. So it was awesome.”