CASTLE ROCK, Colo. — A boutique in Castle Rock has put the normal day-to-day business on hold to make sure every student has the chance to experience prom in style.
Be Happy Boutique said it is giving away hundreds of prom dresses. They're pulling out all the stops for students – with personal shoppers to help them find the perfect dress and photographers – to make the experience something special.
The boutique owner, Meghann Guentensberger, also runs a non-profit called Rylie's ARK in memory of her daughter Rylie. ARK stands for "Acts of Random Kindness."
Rylie died nearly four years ago at the age of 12 after a car crashed into a Parker store where she was shopping for new running shoes with her mom.
The young girl was known for doing kind things.
"What we see here is our way of being kind right now, and that is giving away prom dresses to any girl who walks through this door," Guentensberger said.
The boutique had collected 600 prom dresses last January and February, and then COVID-19 hit and put the giveaway on hold – so there are plenty of dresses for every girl.
The giveaway aims to remove the obstacles associated with the cost of a prom dress, ensure that every girl has the chance to experience the joy of prom and create an experience that will change the girls' outlook about themselves and what is possible in their lives.
The boutique said it gives the dresses away, more than 600 dresses in all styles and sizes for free – no questions asked through Sunday.
"Seeing all those dresses filling a full store is pretty awesome," said Guentensberger. "I love being back in the dressing room or peeking around the corner and seeing the girls just twirl and the material goes up, and their face lights up, even under a mask you can just see their eyes are so big."
She said she's heard so many stories from the girls and families visiting the boutique to shop for a dress.
"The giggles are just incredible – it's one of the things I miss most; having Rylie passed away four years ago, we don't hear that giggle, and so it just warms my heart to hear these girls giggling in that way and to see them twirl in a mirror and have them realize how beautiful they are inside and out."
Girls who receive the free dresses are asked to "Be the Ripple" and spread kindness in some way, big or small, in their future.
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