Young woman in wheelchair

‘Savage’ dance number played for Prom Queen in wheelchair scares the internet

Online commentators were shocked by the “wild” song played after Sarah Mendenhall, a high school student with acute flaccid myelitis (AFM), was named queen of the prom.

The moment was captured and shared on TikTok by Mendenhall’s friend, Celeste Orozco, who wrote, “A prom queen crown moment to remember.” The post has nearly 18 million views and thousands of comments from stunned viewers, many of whom were ashamed of the DJ.

In the clip, Mendenhall, who is in a wheelchair, meets her king on the dance floor after being crowned. Students cheer as the royals greet each other, but the atmosphere in the room changes dramatically when the couple’s first dance number – Ed Sheeran’s Thinking out loud— starts playing.

“When your legs don’t work like they used to,” reads the song’s first line. Upon hearing the lyrics, the audience gasped and “yolded” the DJ.

Young woman in wheelchair
Online commentators were shocked by the “wild” song played after Sarah Mendenhall, a high school student with acute flaccid myelitis, was announced as the prom queen. Here singer Ed Sheeran (left) and a stock photo of a young woman in a wheelchair (right).
Dave J Hogan / Contributor / Sergii Gnatiuk/Getty/iStock

“This would haunt me for the rest of my life if I were a DJ,” said the video’s narrator.

Viewer’s response

Many viewers think that the song was chosen weeks before the dance. Still, they were shocked by the moment.

“I would run to a new state and change my identity,” Wsp wrote.

“I’d stop right away, man,” Manavog admitted.

“Wrong so wrong,” Zyan Jones commented.

“Bruh, even if it was a pre-made playlist from the school, I still would have skipped that song because I know the d**n lyrics to this song,” said the_drama_queen_sarah.

Luke Powell simply called the moment “wild.”

Thatb0ybubu added: “It’s so disrespectful.”

While both the audience and many of Orozco’s viewers found the moment shocking to say the least, Mendenhall thought it was funny.

“I thought it was really funny and ironic. I didn’t know what was going on until long after that because I was trying to dance,” Mendenhall noted.

Orozco replied, “Had a great night before prom and had a good laugh the next day.”

About acute flaccid myelitis

Posted in a video on her account on Tuesday, Mendenhall explained that she has an autoimmune disorder commonly referred to as AFM.

†[At] 17, I have a cold [but] didn’t know I had an autoimmune disease called AFM,” Mendenhall began.

“In fact, this cold caused my immune system to attack my entire nervous system. I had two lesions in my gray matter on my spine…two lesions on the spine, one on the top [and] one on the bottom, leaves you a quadriplegic – me,” she continued

She went on to explain that it’s possible for nerves to repair themselves if they’re not “permanently damaged,” which thankfully hers wasn’t.

“So I Can Walk” [but] I can’t run or walk long distances,” she said. “My wheelchair is called Bethany and she’s a good friend.”

According to the Siegel Rare Neuroimmune Association (SRNA), AFM is a “rare” autoimmune disease, meaning it affects less than 200,000 people in the US. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed 682 cases of the condition since 2014; however, this number “may be an underestimate because not all cases are reported,” SRNA explained.

Unfortunately, the CDC said there is no “specific treatment” for AFM, but clinicians “can recommend different interventions based on each patient.” SRNA also claimed that a “rapid and accurate diagnosis” can lead to “rapid acute treatment”.

news week contacted Orozco and Mendenhall for comment.

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