Destini Murray entered her prom followed by an entourage at Chateau Briand in Carle Place Wednesday night. She giggled as her mother, Revenya, insisted on snapping photos of her by the outdoor fire pit and in the long hall of mirrors inside the venue. Her aunt played Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely” on her iPhone while looking on and dancing with Destini’s sister.
Revenya Murray beamed while watching her daughter pose and laugh with her friends.
“Destini has been a fashion diva since she was small,” Murray said. “She’s always wanted stuff that was sparkly: tutus, shiny shoes, glitter. If it didn’t have that stuff on it, as a young girl, she just wouldn’t wear it.”
At the Henry Viscardi School in Albertson -- which provides classes, therapies and recreational activities for people with physical disabilities -- Destini discovered her passion. And as she gets ready to graduate, the 17-year-old is more driven than ever to follow through with a plan that’s been in the back of her mind for several years.
“My goal is to go to Hofstra for two years and transfer to a private school called LIM [College],” she said. “I’d also like to open up my own business for people with disabilities.”
Destini lives in Harlem, and started attending the Viscardi Center after a motor vehicle accident in 2007 left her a paraplegic. The commute to Viscardi is 45 minutes each way, give or take with traffic, five days a week. But it seems that she wouldn’t want it any other way: Destini is the president of her class, participates in the yearbook committee and plays on the basketball team.
“I would say Viscardi helped me become the independent woman I am today,” she said. “And I’m just ready to start on a new journey and make both of my parents proud.”
Her mother says that one day when Destini’s ninth-grade class was brainstorming their career goals, that’s when she hatched the idea to open a modelling agency for people with disabilities.
“[Destini] says people with disabilities are very pretty people,” Murray said. “And they’re not given a fair opportunity in a lot of marketing, so she wants to be the one to open the doors and continue to bring awareness to people with disabilities.”
Destini’s favorite clothing stores are Rainbow and Charlotte Russe, and she is constantly stitching, sketching and drawing inspiration from photos online when putting an outfit together.
As far as Destini’s fashion for prom night, the preparation began three months ago. Her aunt purchased the candy red cocktail dress with a sweetheart neckline, tulle skirt and gemstone beading. Once Destini found her dream shoes on the David’s Bridal website -- sparkly silver sneakers with rhinestones -- her mother had them shipped overnight to their home.
“She laid her eyes right on them and knew that she wanted those, as soon as she saw them,” Revenya Murray said with a laugh.
As for the ensuing prom festivities, which included both the junior and senior classes of the Viscardi Center, Destini got choked up thinking about how bittersweet the night would be.
“I know this is my last year with my friends and I just hope to keep them in my life as I continue on my journey and just enjoy myself tonight,” she said.
Going forward, Murray’s advice to her daughter is simple. “Don’t let anything stop you,” she said. “Don’t put the ‘dis’ in your ‘disability.’ Show them the abilities that you have and go all the way with them.”