CRYSTAL LAKE – Lori Thier and her 17-year-old daughter stood alongside a rack of lacy, ruffled and beaded gowns.
“What do you think?” Mikyla Thier asked after her mother zipped a smooth, black satin dress over the teen’s tank top and pants. Mikyla twirled, and the full, black skirt floated outward.
“She says she has to have one that spins,” the Wonder Lake mom said, looking on as her daughter walked and occasionally spun round in the McHenry County College gym.
The Thiers were among dozens of mother-daughter pairs – and a few dad-daughter pairs – present for the seventh annual “My Sister’s Dress” event. The event places new and gently used gowns in the hands of young prom-goers for the bargain price of $25 each. The dresses, as well as purses, shoes and other accessories, were donated, and event proceeds benefit Big Brothers Big Sisters of McHenry County.
At least 300 people were waiting for the doors to open at 10 a.m. Sunday, said Emily Smith, a Lake in the Hills resident who is co-chairwoman of My Sister’s Dress with her sister-in-law, Whitney Ruth of Huntley.
“We had on our racks this morning 1,015 dresses,” Smith said, noting that it was a record amount. “Last year, the event raised $6,000, and every year it’s grown by about $500, so we’ll probably raise about $6,500.”
A freshman at the College of Lake County, Sarah Guzior scored a lacy, strapless, pale-yellow gown with a rhinestone embellishment at the gathered bodice.
“It reminds me of Belle from ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ ” said Guzior, who dates a Richmond-Burton High School senior and plans to wear the Zum Zum by Niki Livas dress to his prom.
Smith said that new gowns can spike the cost of attending prom by hundreds of dollars, so My Sister’s Dress puts attending within reach for many who might otherwise forego it. Not only were the dresses only $25 each, but shoes, purses and other accessories were available for $5 an item or pair.
“It’s just a win-win all around,” Smith said.
Big Brothers Big Sisters pairs screened adult volunteers with children ages 6 through 18 for positive companionship and mentoring. Big Brothers Big Sisters of McHenry County has 516 children in its programs, with about 30 on a waiting list, said Josh Baker, executive director.
Funds from My Sister’s Dress will help support match activities, as well as activities for those still waiting for a “big,” he added.
Smith said Star 105.5 of Crystal Lake and Taylor Stevens Salon & Spa of Algonquin are among the event’s greatest supporters. About four people from the spa “ambushed” a handful of lucky shoppers, who received coupons for free services as well as all or a portion of their shopping items for free.
Judging by the smiles, My Sister’s Dress again was a big hit.
“I tried this one on first and a couple others after it, but I kept going back to this one,” said a beaming Tally Lalor, an Alden-Hebron High School freshman who exited MCC carrying a long gown of teals, fuschias and blues, with color-matched rhinestones and sequins around the middle.
“It’s brand new,” said her mom, Marnie Lalor. “You can’t beat the deal.”
To learn more
To learn more about Big Brothers Big Sisters of McHenry County, visit bbbsmchenry.org or call 815-385-3855.