Elle and Coach Go To Prom

WRITTEN BY: Elle Shaheen

prom_dog_Elle Shaheen_3Prom. It is one of the most infamous, boisterous and glamorous nights throughout the four stressful and confusing years of high school. Frankly, I was unsure if I even would attend the event. The idea of being surrounded by peers often judging each other based on how we looked in our grownup outfits was an intimidating prospect in my book.

As a 16-year-old girl trying to manage teenage angst, Type 1 diabetes and a service dog named Coach, my personal insecurities are aplenty. If I had a dollar for every time someone asked me if I was bringing my dog as my date to prom, I would at least have my college books covered. Would Coach come with me to the prom? Would he be my date? My only date?

By second semester photos of painstakingly selected dresses popped up in a private Facebook group with hopes of avoiding a “who wore it better” fiasco. I was overwhelmed by conversations about dresses, dates and after parties. On top of AP exams, homework, the SATs, Coach and a disease to handle, I now had to find a dress that I actually liked on the body I have a love-hate relationship with at this point in my life.

After agonizing for months about whether I would go and what I would wear and after failing to talk myself out of going for fear of missing out on all the hype, I made the decision to go. I decided to go to my prom with my service dog, Coach, and with one of my best friends on my arm. Ultimately, every time my door of doubt would swing open, I would try to remind myself that what makes me who I am is not my dress size, but the way I have embraced life’s challenges and how I fight to overcome my challenges so I can enjoy nights like the prom. After all, I wanted prom to be about the fun I would have with the people I care about and not about how good or bad I looked in a dress, or what my hair looked like or if my makeup was too much. I decided to make prom a celebration.

The night eventually came and in all of my glory, I stepped onto my high school gym floor for our Grand March with Coach on my left, one of my best friends on my right, and a confident me standing in the middle. This may sound strange, but that night, I discovered that Coach was part of what makes me beautiful. The story behind him and our relationship contributes to my strength. Despite my angst and insecurity, I was happy I went and happy that Coach came along. And as it turns out, I loved my dress!

Read Elle and Coach How a Diabetic Alert Dog Changed my Daughter’s Life by Stefany Shaheen and Pumpin’ at Prom by Makaila Heifner.

Elle Shaheen

Elle Shaheen is junior at Portsmouth High School in Portsmouth, NH, where she was recently inducted into the National Honor Society. She is obsessed with musical theater and loves to sing, dance and act. Elle is an advocate for better treatments and medical research for Type 1 diabetes and has participated in 5 clinical trials since her diagnosis eight years ago. She lives with her parents, two little sisters and brother and her medic-alert dog, Coach. Coach is trained to detect changes in Elle's blood sugars and helps prevent her from experiencing life-threatening lows. Elle and Coach are the subject of the newly released book, aptly titled: ELLE & COACH.