Lesley West’s Efforts Ease Prom Costs, Provide Dresses to 500 IPS Girls
While the Pacers were in Atlanta for their first round playoff series against the Hawks, teenage girls invaded the practice court at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Monday. One hundred girls each from five different IPS high schools schools – Broad Ripple, Crispus Attucks, George Washington, John Marshall, Northwest and Shortridge – took part in a giveaway aiming to alleviate the price of attending high school prom.
Lesley West, wife of Pacers forward David, started the program 10 years ago but for the first time, she brought it to Indianapolis. Five hundred young ladies stepped onto the practice court, which looked more like a department store, to find the perfect dress for their big night – with almost 700 dresses to choose from.
Photo Gallery: Lesley West Prom Dress Drive
“Prom night is one of those nights from high school that you might remember forever,” said Lesley West. “If you had a good experience or a bad experience, it’s going to last a lifetime. Prom is very, very expensive now. In addition to the beautiful dress, the hair and the makeup, they have to pay for the tickets, they have to pay for the boutonnieres for the boyfriend and they have to get to the prom. We’re alleviating some of that expense for the girls by providing the dress and as many discounts on the other items as possible.”
According to a recent national report, the cost of attending prom for an average American family is a whopping $1,139. That includes the outfit, makeup, transportation, dinner, tickets to the dance and more.
“When I went out and talked to the girls a couple months ago, there were more than a couple of people that told me they weren’t going to be able to go because they couldn’t afford a dress,” West said. “I see them today getting the dresses and that makes me feel like it all came together.”
In addition selecting a dress, each girl received a goodie bag from Saks, which included high-quality makeup, plus a coupon to get corsages and boutonnieres at Kroger and tickets to a Pacers preseason game. There were also representatives from Splash on hand to give lessons on applying makeup. Lastly, all names were put in a raffle that included 125 different items that could be used on prom night, such as certificates to get their hair, nails or makeup done, or have their dinner or limousine paid for.
“They were so excited,” said Heather Denton, the Pacers’ Director of Player Relations who helped orchestrate the program with West and many other volunteers. “One of the girls that walked by was grinning from ear-to-ear and just hugged us. Can you imagine just the relief for some of these parents not having to worry about the economics of prom?
“For me [prom] was just awesome to be with my friends, to be dressed up. It was the first time that we really got to be dressed up. You’re so proud of when you walked in and it’s just a chance to be outside of school, in a different environment and having fun with your friends. I think it means so much.”
David West said his role was limited to transporter. For the last month, he would bring a trunk full of dresses, which his wife picked out and purchased, daily to the Fieldhouse. He admitted, “it’s a girl thing,” but he was proud of what his wife and others had accomplished.
Kayla White, a student a Shortridge High School proudly smiled wide as she wrapped up her trip to the Fieldhouse. She had fun and was very appreciative of the opportunity.
“It feels good because I think I got the dress that fits me,” she said. “I think I’ll be the cutest one there!”