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Earlier this year, Conner DiGenova of New Philadelphia and Chelsea Lefler of Newcomerstown had their dreams come true.
The two students had been selected to attend the National Special Olympics Bowling Tournament in Las Vegas, Nevada, where they eventually won team gold and doubles bronze and gold, respectively.
However, wanting to help make the trip extra special, Coney DiGenova (father of Conner and Unified Bowling partner) contacted Leaps n Boundz in Los Angeles, California, to see if it would be possible for the two athletes to visit the set of one of their favorite television shows, "Born This Way."
The production, which appears on A&E on Tuesday nights, is a reality show that chronicles the lives of seven individuals with Down Syndrome and their loved ones. Coney reached Joclynn Benjamin who told him that a visit would definitely be possible; however, if he could bring the two fans out a couple of days earlier, they would have the chance to attend a Valentine's Day dance with some of the cast as well as appear on the show as extras.
With some quick planning, continued communication, and support from Nate Kamban and their fellow athletes and partners, the DiGenova and Lefler families were able to attend the dance. The experience ended up being everything that both Conner and Chelsea could have wished for. They got to meet the cast, share dances with them, and sing along during a live concert.
Season 3 of the series premiered on May 16, 2017, with two episodes. Chelsea appeared in the previews shown at the end of the episode. Conner appeared in previews on the June 13, 2017, episode. Both individuals were extras in the episode that was shown on June 20, 2017. Dressed in their Valentine's Day best, both Chelsea and Conner can be seen dancing with numerous cast members and observing them throughout the episode.
When asked to describe the event and evening to others, Conner says that it is his favorite memory. Chelsea shares that meeting the cast was amazing and a dream come true.
"Born This Way" can be seen on Tuesday nights at 10 p.m. on A&E.