A golf match made in heaven

Bearden senior prom features All Saints parishioner Alex Notte and his date, LPGA star Belen Mozo

DINING IN STYLE Alex Notte, a parishioner at All Saints Church in Knoxville, dines with Bearden High School senior prom date Belen Mozo at Gettysvue Country Club. Photo by Stephanie Richer

DINING IN STYLE Alex Notte, a parishioner at All Saints Church in Knoxville, dines with Bearden High School senior prom date Belen Mozo at Gettysvue Country Club.
Photo by Stephanie Richer

Alex Notte and Belen Mozo share a passion for golf. Now, the Bearden High School student who is a member of All Saints Church and the international golf pro have something else in common—a date to remember to Bearden’s senior prom.

Alex has become an overnight sensation after being featured in newspaper and television reports for his video inviting Miss Mozo, a rising star on the Ladies Professional Golf Association tour, to the prom. The video, which was shot by Alex’s sister, Arielle, has nearly 11,000 Internet views and the number has risen every day.

And it had an impact on Miss Mozo, who was wowed by Alex asking her to Bearden’s prom to the hit song, “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen. Arielle shot the video as Alex played golf in January.

“I was really moved when I saw the video. I knew immediately that I wanted to say ‘yes’,” said Miss Mozo, 24, who is from Cadiz, Spain.

Alex’s dream of taking Miss Mozo to prom came true on May 11 with a little help from his family and friends. Alex’s entourage at his home included his parents, grandparents, other family members and friends.

Alex, 19, was decked out in a traditional black tuxedo with black and white striped vest and matching bow tie. He also sported custom navy socks with multicolored polka dots—his personal choice. To complete Alex’s attire, he wore a white lily boutonniere adorned with two golf tees.

Miss Mozo was dressed in a fitted, full-length light green chiffon gown with a bangled bodice. Her hair was done in a loose French knot.

The couple rode to dinner at Gettysvue Country Club and then to the prom at the Clayton Performing Arts Center in Maryville in a chauffeur-driven 1959 vintage Rolls Royce.

He and Miss Mozo were joined on the date by Alex’s close friends Sydney Mills and Joshua Dawes.

Alex is more than just a high school teen who took a celebrity to prom. He is a devout Catholic and a compassionate special-needs teenager with an outgoing, positive attitude.

Alex and his family, parents Richard and Kristine, and sister Arielle, are originally from Canada and have been parishioners at All Saints in Knoxville for 12 years.

“The All Saints priests and community have been wonderful. Alex wanted to be an altar server. … Father Chris (Michelson) knew it wasn’t going to be conventional” but he allowed it anyway, Mrs. Notte said.

She noted that the church has fully embraced Alex and the special care he requires. “There have been a few homilies that have included Alex,” she said.

Alex’s home is adorned with some of his favorite items, which are commonplace for a faithful Catholic. His holy water font marks a room in his home, where inside are photos of his visit to Rome. One photo in particular appears to show Alex receiving a blessing from Benedict XVI when he was pope.

Alex’s parents said as a child he enjoyed donning vestments that were handmade for him by his grandmother.

“He used to play priest for hours on end,” said Alex’s father, Richard, as he proudly displayed the green and gold handmade vestments.

Alex so loves the Catholic faith that he invited Father Michael Woods of All Saints to Gettysvue Country Club to bless the prom dinner with Miss Mozo. Alex’s parents admitted that the days leading up to his prom were hectic but it brought them great joy to see their son so happy.

“Both sets of grandparents came from Canada for the event,” Mr. Notte said.

For those who know Alex, the recent events surrounding his prom came as no surprise.

“He’s provided us with a lot of powerful moments in our lives,” Mrs. Notte said.

Alex’s parents freely admit that raising a special-needs child has not been easy, but they say Alex’s challenges have provided the family a way to learn about themselves and others in a way that would never have been possible otherwise. Alex’s developmental challenges involve neurological, vision and hearing function, and he has taken up golf to help him overcome those obstacles.

“He really connects with people and he’s very compassionate,” Mrs. Notte said. Though his parents say a few doors have been closed to Alex due to his special needs, many people have been more than welcoming to him. Whittington Creek Swim Club and Bearden High School’s JROTC program are just two of those welcoming programs.

“Alex is also very involved in Young Life,” Mrs. Notte said.

Young Life is a nondenominational program where children are introduced to Jesus Christ and encouraged to follow his teachings. Alex attempts to teach all about the love of Jesus, regardless of whether they are Catholic or other faiths.

“What impressed me was how Alex was so determined to follow his dreams, whether it be golf or finding a prom date, and that he refuses to be defined by the challenges standing in his way,” said Miss Mozo. “He’s an inspiration to me, and hopefully his story will encourage kids everywhere with special needs to feel great about themselves and all they can accomplish.”

Alex and Miss Mozo teamed up the morning of the prom at Gettysvue for a charity exhibition to benefit Special Olympics golf. Alex represented Tennessee in the event, and Miss Mozo was the guest speaker.

Family and friends of Alex in the Diocese of Knoxville say the diocese is fortunate to have a youth who is so strong in his faith and willing to teach others. Alex has been visible in Knoxville’s Catholic community since his arrival 12 years ago. From his appearance in All Saints’ Nativity Pageant as a child, his uninhibited cheering on the sidelines of Knoxville Catholic High School’s football field, to his achievements in the Boy Scouts for the diocese, Alex’s enthusiasm for his faith is contagious as is his winning personality.

Just ask the LPGA’s rising international star, who was Alex’s special date to Bearden’s 2013 senior prom.