Columbia eighth grader Sara Stehlik is living up to her title of Miss Southern Sweetheart Outstanding Teen.
Stehlik has stepped up to be a prom date in a unique situation.
A young martial artist with cerebral palsy, Heath Goldberg, didn’t have a date for his upcoming prom at Maplewood Richmond Heights High School.
Goldberg’s mother contacted his teacher, Ken, at Ohana Martial Arts in St. Charles, Mo., and asked for help.
In turn, Ken asked his wife Sydni, founder of Butterfly Dreams, a non-profit organization that hosts events and pageants for special needs, if any of her girls would be able to help Goldberg.
Stehlik, an eighth grader at Columbia Middle School, said she would be thrilled to attend Goldberg’s prom with him.
The two met for the first time Monday night at Ohana Martial Arts, where Stehlik was able to get to know Goldberg and help him practice.
“It went really well,” Goldberg said.
He has been doing martial arts at Ohana since he was just seven years old. The studio caters to both able-bodied and those with disabilities.
Heath’s mother, Angel, said the martial arts classes have been awesome for Heath because of all the benefits that it provides.
“It’s built a group of friends for him, along with physical skills,” she said. “It’s an excellent alternative to physical ther
Angel said Heath had planned to go to prom by himself, but she wanted him to be able to have a date.
“Sara wanted to be his date, and we were absolutely thrilled about that,” Angel said.
Everything fit together perfectly, because Sydni helped connect everyone and make this evening happen.
“Sara’s my right-hand girl, and she’s always willing to assist wherever it’s needed,” Sydni said. “I knew she would say yes.”
On Monday night, Sara was able to help Heath during his class.
“In the martial arts class, they have volunteers who work with the students,” Sydni said. “Sara was able to do that (Monday night).”
For this Saturday’s prom, the pair will be taking pictures beforehand at Forest Park in St. Louis.
“It’ll be so pretty this time of year,” Sydni said. “They’re both super excited.”
Heath said he is looking forward to dancing the most.
They will attend the high school prom together on Saturday at Friends — A Meeting Place on North Compton Avenue.
Stehlik captured the title of Miss Southern Sweetheart Outstanding Teen in November. She has previously been named CMS Volunteer of the Year, and is a 4.0 honor roll student and district and conference spelling bee winner. She participates in the school’s band, scholar bowl, choir, musical theater and “Best Buds” program.