A Tribute to Anthony Penna by Mabel Yu

As the first anniversary of Anthony Penna’s untimely departure from this life approaches, I want to share a story with all of you about just how special this young man was and the impact that he had on our daughter, Annie. It is a story of friendship, courage and, above all, faith.

Anthony was Annie’s schoolmate, fellow Mastersinger and friend. From Anthony, Annie learned to have the courage to ask. She, though shy, stepped out of her comfort zone and fulfilled her high school prom dream. Building upon the lessons in courage that Anthony taught her, she is now blazing her trail at the University of Notre Dame, Anthony’s beloved college. Thank you, Anthony, for lifting up Annie and all the others whose lives you touched.

Here is the story.

Anthony, only a sophomore at the time, secretly wanted to be invited to Junior Prom. While attending the Festival of Gold Choral Competition in Chicago with his fellow Mastersingers, he adorably shared his availability to accompany the Junior ladies, including Annie, to Junior Prom. Anthony had a way about him that endeared himself to anyone who knew him. He won all of their hearts by being the perfect sweet gentleman on the trip.

Annie, two weeks before her Junior Prom, worked up the courage to ask Anthony to be her date. It was a night she will never forget. Annie will always carry the sweet memory of feeling like a princess in her Cinderella gown as she slow-danced with her handsome date, Anthony. With courage and friendship, they made each others’ wishes come true.

That next year, Annie, now herself a senior, found herself secretly hoping to be invited to Junior Prom. Learning from Anthony, she coyly suggested to her junior Science Olympiad partner “I am available if you know a nice guy who needs a prom date.” When Ethan asked, she was elated and the evening was a special memory for each of them.

For Annie, getting a senior “Promposal” was high on her High School Wish List. So when Matt, one of the funniest Swim Team members posted a question on Instagram “Who is willing to go to prom with me?” Annie boldly responded “I will if you give me a cute Promposal.” Matt did just that – and it made their Senior Prom unforgettable.

Anthony was also there for Annie when she made the decision to attend Notre Dame. Annie felt Anthony’s presence when she first visited ND. She believed Anthony would look out for her to get into his beloved college, and Anthony did!

Many times in life we learn critical life lessons through the examples of those whose lives have touched us and impacted our own. Through Anthony’s connection to Annie, she learned to step outside her comfort zone to make her dreams happen. I often wonder . . . what if Anthony had never asked Annie that question about Junior Prom? What if he hadn’t planted that seed in Annie’s mind? Every day as Annie continues to grow and reach for her goals, she will always carry that piece of Anthony with her – the piece that tells her to never be afraid and always have the courage and faith to pursue your goals and dreams, because they just might come true.

Dear Friends, in honor of Anthony, I hope you will consider:
-Sharing YOUR story about Anthony.
-Sharing this story if you like it.
-Supporting the Anthony Penna Foundation.