For a decade now, women have donned their old prom and bridesmaid dresses — even wedding dresses — for an evening of charitable revelry in suburban Detroit. And the idea is catching on.
As the annual retro-shindig known as the Mom Prom gained attention, founder Betsy Crapps started getting more calls and emails from women interested in holding similar events.
"My dream was to have women raise money for charity and have a great time with their girlfriends," Crapps said during this year's party at her church in Canton Township.
That dream has come true. The 47-year-old mother of three estimates about 80 Mom Proms will be held this year nationwide.
Among them is Melanie Collins' fourth Mom Prom on April 1 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, with proceeds going to Assistance in Health Care, which helps cancer patients in financial distress. The cost is $35 per ticket.
"If someone wants to put on an expensive gown and pay $300 for a dinner at a gala, there is no shortage of charities to oblige. Mom Prom is priced low, allowing anyone to attend," Collins said.
Crapps owns the "Mom Prom" trademark but doesn't charge for hosting one. She asks that proceeds go to charity and for would-be organizers to contact her so she can keep track of the events.
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Mom Prom "fosters a lovely feeling of sisterhood among attendees," said Gail Veitch, who helped bring the concept to Saratoga Springs, New York, where four proms have resulted in donations of nearly $50,000 to women's or children's charities.
Crapps estimates the Canton Mom Prom, where attendee numbers are limited because of available space in the church's basement, have raised several thousand dollars a year for St. Vincent De Paul and other charities.
Marie Lally's Mom Prom will take place April 22 in South Lyon, Michigan. The 41-year-old paralegal said it's an easy draw.
"I have so many friends that are like, 'Let's go dancing.' Where do you go dancing when you get to be, like, a mom," she said.