They met in elementary school and were inseparable for years until they were forced apart in sixth grade.
A lot of fourth grade students either stayed away from Mary Lapkowicz or thought she was weird because she had Down syndrome, but not Ben Moser. Ben always looked out for Mary, no matter what.
If she looked sad, he would go and talk to her. If she was left out of an activity or game, he would bring her in.
Their fourth grade teacher Tracey Spogli remembers their friendship like it was yesterday.
“If she was looking like she wasn’t having fun, he would go over and talk to her … He just always watched over her,”
Ben said he thought Mary was really cool, sweet, and easy to get along with. Mary thought the same.
“He was sweet and he was nice.”
When Ben was in fourth grade, he saw his older cousin’s prom walk and told his mom he would ask Mary to the prom when they got older. His mother, Lisa Moser, was touched by her son’s kind heart. “That would be one of the proudest things you could ever do,” she told him.
That almost didn’t happen. When they were in sixth grade, Mary moved to Central Dauphin school district, where her father, Tom Lapkowicz, taught math. Ben and Mary lost touch.
Years later they were reunited when their high schools played against each other during their junior year.
Ben was the quarterback for Susquehanna High. Mary helped her father as equipment manager for Central Dauphin’s football team. That’s when Ben remembered his promise.
“We got balloons and I wrote ‘prom’ on it,” Ben said. “I presented her with the balloons and asked her to go to prom with me.”
The pair smiled arm-in-arm as they posed for pictures with their parents. Mary looked elegant in a lavender gown while Ben donned a matching vest.
Though they joked about the awkward school rivalry, neither of them thought their date out of the ordinary. After all, he had promised he would take her years ago and friends keep promises. Ben said, “Just be who you are and do what’s right.”
“[Ben] has grown into a man with a big heart, a deep sense of putting others first, and most of all making people feel special and loved,” his mom wrote on Facebook. “With joyful tears in my eyes and down my face I watched a promise made, seven years ago, to a beautiful girl fulfilled.”