WESTFORD -- When Patrick Conway knocked on her door a week before the Westford Academy prom armed with balloons spelling out an invitation to the dance, Brenna Siegfriedt almost couldn't control her excitement.
"Patrick left and she was giddy for an hour. She couldn't stop laughing for an hour," said her mother, Michele. "I had just never seen her so happy in my life."
For Brenna, an 18-year-old from Westford, the prom was a teenage milestone she didn't think she would ever get to experience.
Brenna was born with Prader-Willi Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that causes her to never feel satiated. It can result in overeating to the point of being life-threatening if unchecked, requiring Michelle to keep all the food in her home under lock and key.
But thanks to the help of her long-time mentor and friend Mackenzie Brewer, Brenna found her Prince Charming.
Conway, a senior at Acton-Boxboro High School, heard from Brewer, who was a close family friend, that Brenna was in need of a date to the prom.
As someone whose own family has been closely affected by a different genetic disorder, Conway had no doubts about stepping in.
"I have a sister that has Down syndrome, and so when she was in high school she kind of went through the same thing of not necessarily being included," Conway said.
Although he had never been to a prom before himself, he knew how important the night would be to Brenna.
"I have three older sisters and I've seen the whole process so many times, so I know how important it is, and I wanted to make sure that Brenna would be a part of that, that she would have her own opportunity to do that," Conway said.
Although Brenna just graduated from Milestones Day School in Waltham, as a Westford resident she was invited by Westford Academy to attend the school's prom and graduation ceremony.
Brenna spent the day of prom, May 31, getting her hair and nails done, but said her favorite part of the preparation was buying her dress, a bright blue gown with a sparkly top.
The couple took pictures on the Westford Town Common along with hundreds of other students that night.
Conway's parents, Patricia and Peter Conway, came along for that part of the evening. Their support, Michele said, along with his mother Patricia's statement that she wanted to make sure Brenna had the ultimate prom experience, was enough to bring Michele to tears.
"You don't often have many people that are dealing with the same thing as you, and she totally got it," Michele said.
After the pictures were taken, the two drove to the dance at the Sheraton Hotel in Boston.
Her favorite parts of prom night itself, Brenna said, were dancing and seeing her friends. With more than 400 students there, it was the largest social event she'd ever attended.
For Michele, Conway's willingness to go out of his way to help Brenna showed how a much of a difference a stranger's compassion can make.
"People don't understand what one little act of kindness can do for someone that isn't able to take part in everything as freely as other kids," she said.
She said she hopes Conway can serve as an example for others.
"I just think more people back away with people that are challenged and I would just like to see the opposite," Michele said.
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