Obama credits local Joplin volunteer in commencement speech

JOPLIN, Mo. - In his speech to Joplin graduating seniors, President Barack Obama mentioned a couple of names you may recognize.

There was Will Norton - the young man killed when his car was tossed violently.

Quinton Anderson - his parents were killed by the twister. He was severely injured, but survived to become the captain of his high school football team.

And there was Melissa Blayton.

Blayton is from Independence, Mo. She took it upon herself to organize the Joplin Prom Project.

She found sponsors, collected donations. She ended up with more than 2,000 prom dresses, some tuxedos, and food to make the senior class's prom memorable.

And it was.

"Prom was pretty awesome," said Julia Lewis, a graduating senior. "A lot of people came from Kansas City (and) really just made it a magical night."

Blayton said she's grown emotionally attached to the students.

"To see them walk across the stage and receive their diploma - these kids were born to rise out of the rubble and soar up like eagles," she said.

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