A prom of her own

MARSHALL – Like so many other teenagers, Tosha Rathman was looking forward to her junior and senior prom. The opportunity to get all dressed up and spend an enchanted evening with that special someone was something she had dreamed about for many years.

After basic training in the Marine Corps kept her boyfriend, Taylor Brunner, from attending prom last year, Rathman was especially excited about the 2014 prom at Marshall High School.

That excitement quickly turned to disappointment when Rathman learned that Brunner had received orders for overseas duty and would not be able to attend the April 26 prom in Marshall.

“Last year, I saw her cry when she didn’t go to prom because Taylor was in basic training,” said Marcia Klaith, Rathman’s mom. “And this year, she was upset because he’s going to be in Afghanistan. So over supper one night, her twin sister Taryn and I were talking while Tosha was at work, and I was like ‘let’s bring prom to them.’ So we did.”

Under the assumption that she was going to take photos somewhere special, Rathman was blindfolded and brought to Shay’s Restaurant, where roughly 50 people were waiting to surprise her on Saturday.

“I have butterflies,” Brunner said as he awaited his girlfriend’s arrival. “I can’t go to her real prom, so we thought we’d bring it to her.”

After her sister untied her blindfold once inside the door, Rathman was speechless as she saw Brunner standing there in his Marine blues, holding a corsage and a sign asking her to prom.

“I thought, ‘Oh, my gosh, this is so amazing,'” Rathman said. “I was really surprised, but I was so happy.”

The first thing Rathman did was hug her sister, followed by a warm embrace with Brunner. It was then that she realized that there were two rows of people, including friends and family, lining the pathway to the dance floor, which was colorfully decorated.

“It was great that I have all these people here to support me and be there for me,” Rathman said. “I’m so thankful I have awesome people like this who did this for me. It means a lot to me and I’m so excited.”

Klaith was extremely happy with the turnout, which included aunts, uncles, friends and other people in her daughter’s support system, she said.

“Pretty much everyone we invited is here,” Klaith said. “It’s amazing. Her face was priceless. She’ll remember this always, I’m sure.”

Planning an early prom wasn’t easy, but the outcome was worth the effort, Klaith said.

“We pulled it off,” she said. “We surprised Tosha. There were a lot of little white lies, which were sometimes hard to keep straight, but it was a lot of fun.”

Along with those who gathered at Shay’s, Brunner’s parents, Lorie and Brad Brunner, also got to be part of the early prom celebration by skyping online from Kansas.

“It was nice that they could be part of it, too,” Klaith said.

Amidst hugs and well-wishes throughout the evening, Rathman and Brunner spent quality time on the dance floor, just the two of them, at their very own prom.