Two caring parents wanted to bring happiness to their mentally disabled daughter and in turn they brought happiness to hundreds of others who now look forward to one day every year.
Two caring parents wanted to bring happiness to their mentally disabled daughter and in turn, they brought happiness to hundreds of others who now look forward to one day every year.
This is one of the best days of the year for hundreds of people with intellectual disabilities.
"They look forward to this every year. They love it," says a volunteer, Amanda Ray.
This day, now held at the Knoxville Kerbela Temple, is dedicated to one sweet young lady, Marilyn Archer, the daughter of Paris and Ethel Archer.
"Sixty-one years ago I met this young lady who is sitting here beside me," says Marilyn's father, Paris Archer. "We waited five years and we had our first child, which was Marilyn. She was a twin and we lost one of them at birth."
Marilyn suffered some brain damage.
"She was a blessing to us and everybody who knew her. She was just one special little child," says Marilyn's mother, Ethel Archer.
On her 15th birthday, her parents did something a little different.
"We got her class together and took them to Shoney's. Well, from that day on any time any of those kids seen us they'd say, 'When are we going to go eat again?'" says Ethel.
And so more than 40 years ago this day was born.
"When she passed away we just kept carrying it out. We just thought we'd keep on going with it because it was so good and made so many happy people," says Paris.
Marilyn passed away in 1989 and that's when the event was named in her honor, Marilyn Archer Fun Day.
"Fifty or more percent of them are on the floor from start to finish. They don't even want to sit down to eat," says Paris. "When they play a song, you'd think Elvis Presley walked in on the stage. They just go all wild."
From 30 people to more than 500, several churches are now involved and countless volunteers. Ethel and Paris also work hard to raise money every year to make this event happen.
Marilyn Archer Fun Day, an event like no other all about bringing joy through friendship and dancing.
"I love to see people happy. And whether it's in a party or out there on the street, we ought to all try to live happy because we're only here a short time," says Paris.
One of Your Stories. There's no place like this one.
Two caring parents wanted to bring happiness to their mentally disabled daughter and in turn, they brought happiness to hundreds of others who now look forward to one day every year. WBIR