Friends Hannah Dieffenbaugher, Jonas Schmidt Do ‘Homecoming’ Again
Dieffenbaugher, Schmidt reunite three years later
WHEELING — Jonas Schmidt remembers fondly he was former Wheeling Central High School homecoming queen Hannah Dieffenbaugher’s date for homecoming three years ago when he was a freshman at the school.
Now a senior Cardinal Stritch Catholic High School in Toledo, Ohio, Schmidt’s own homecoming was approaching.
Though he has Down syndrome, Schmidt likes to dance and he knew who he wanted to be his date.
“I want Hannah,” he told his father Vincent Schmidt, the former superintendent of schools for the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. The elder Schmidt is now head of school at Cardinal Stritch Catholic High School.
He reminded his son that Dieffenbaugher still lives back in Wheeling, and is a nursing student at West Liberty University.
But Jonas Schmidt still keeps in contact with his friend, and he and his father called her.
The invitation also came with a sign he made adorned with Batman and Superman logos: “Hannah, will you be my superhero at HoCo?” it asked.
She said, “of course” she would drive the five hours to Toledo to be his date.
The young man proceeded to make all the arrangements himself for the evening, including dinner reservations and flowers.
“Toledo is a big city with a big homecoming. I wanted to share it with my friend from Wheeling,” he said. “She was very special friend, and is a special friend now.”
Dieffenbaugher said she and Schmidt first met when they both were students at St. Michael Parish School in Wheeling.
“I took Jonas my senior year to homecoming when I was homecoiming queen,” she said. “I thought Jonas was a sweetheart. He wanted to make everyone smile. He ran around hugging and singing ‘Sweet Caroline.’ I thought it was a cool idea for him to go to the prom.
“He was comfortable with me. I’m not sure if anybody else asked him he would go. I figured he woudn’t go if not for me.”
Dieffenbaugher said the pair “had so much fun” that night and at his recent homecoming dance. She said
Prior to his invitation, the last time they had spoken was last Halloween through Facetime.
“He wanted to show me his costume,” she said.
Vince Schmidt is impressed by Dieffenbaugher’s efforts with his son.
“It is unbelievable,” he said. “I know when I was in college, I would have been reluctant to take time off from school and studies to travel five hours to go to a high school dance with someone I didn’t date. She was excited to come.
“A dance, to him, is every bit as it is important as it is to everyone else. It meant everything to him this was happening, and he didn’t want to take anybody but Hannah,” Vincent Schmidt said.