Pretty In Pink: 'Mom Prom' High School Fashions Extravaganza Benefits Charity

Women try on their taffeta best to raise funds, make friends.

ByReporter's Notebook By Juju Chang
March 10, 2011, 12:11 AM

March 10, 2011 — -- Forget fashion week. The coolest catwalk may not be in Paris or Milan. In Canton, Mich., women were strutting their stuff from the best of Mom Prom 2011, sashaying down aisle in their prom best.

The women are wearing outlandish, gawdy, ruffled concoctions that were questionable even back in the day, but it's all for a good cause.

I went to Michigan to meet up with Betsey Crapps, a charming mother of three, who's the main mom of the Mom Prom.

She proudly pulls out her puffy pink prom dress circa 1988 and rallies her friends for the ultimate retro girls' night out.

"We spend our lives taking care of our families and this is the one night we don't have responsibilities and we can have fun," she said. "It's not very often that we wear pony tails on the side of our heads and macaroni necklaces.

I quickly realized that it brings out the inner girl in you because every girl likes to play dress up.

I have to admit: Looking at the rack of taffeta splendor, I quickly caught their girly fever.

These tacky, wacky, sometimes startling gowns are also curators of special memories.

"This was my mom's dress," Ellie Wallace said. "She wore it to my wedding 20 years ago, so I wear it in her honor."

Get Your Gown On With 'GMA'! CLICK HERE to send 'GMA' a photo of you in your prom dress.

But there is an even greater driving force behind the tackiness and tiaras.

The Mom Prom has benefited various charities along the way, and that adds meaning to what Mom Prom does.

"It would be great to have a girls' night out and be fun and go dancing but it just puts more emphasis on helping people and that's what we do," said Crapps. "We are moms. We try to help as many people as we can. We take [care] of our families and it's nice to take care of others."

This year the Mom Prom raised $3,000 for the HHT Foundation, a charity that fights for a cure for the rare and life-threatening genetic blood disorder. It's a disease that Mom Prommer Jody Nissan knows all too well. Two of her children and her husband suffer from it.

"It means so much to know that people who have their own lives and their own challenges will pull together to help us find a cure," Nissan said.

Mom Prom Sisterhood, No Dates Invited

In addition to help others, Crapps said the night gives Mom Prommers the opportunity to just let go and have fun.

One afternoon with these women and I get it.

There's a special power in the Mom Prom, a sisterhood unleashed, and it starts the very moment you get that gown on.

For just that evening, there are no dates. Men tend to pooh-pooh dressing up in prom finery and bogeying. Plus, someone has to stay home and watch the kids. So for dates, the women have life-sized cut-outs of Hollywood heart-throbs.

Then it was my turn. I worked a purple sparkle number and loved every minute of it.

One woman wore a massive, white hoop dress she made for her senior year home-economics project. She designed and sewed the dress and wore it to her senior prom 21 years ago.

Another woman wore the dress that her grandmother wore in 1964 as the mother of the groom. Another Mom Prommer wore the dress she wore to her junior prom in 1987.

I have 50 new BFFs in Michigan because Mom Prom is the ultimate girl-bonding moment.

"You always need girlfriends in your life," Crapps said. "Kind of like in high school you depended on your friends, but I don't think you really realized in high school how much you would need really close girlfriends … as you age, you almost need them more.

We like to say we are changing the world one prom at a time."

Get Your Gown On With 'GMA'! CLICK HERE to send 'GMA' a photo of you in your prom dress.

Click HERE for more about the HHT Foundation.

Click HERE for more about Our Hope Holds the Cure.

Click HERE to learn more about Mom Prom.

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