To Help Other Brides In Need, This Woman Is Paying It Forward With The 'Sisterhood of the Wedding Dress'

"Just something as simple as a wedding dress can brighten someone's day."

Usually, a wedding dress makes one bride's day extra special before spending decades gathering dust in her closet. Not Dawnetta Heinz's gown.

Earlier this August, the personal trainer from Omaha, Neb., sparked a "sisterhood of the traveling dress" after posting her David's Bridal gown on a buy-sell-trade Facebook group. "I would like to give my wedding dress away to someone that is on a tight budget and is in need of a dress," she wrote, noting that the gown's adjustable corset allowed it to fit women size 2 to 5. 

She thought she'd receive a response or two, but instead was overwhelmed with the multitude of comments and private messages from interested women. "I did not expect that response at all," Heinz told A Plus. 

She was quick to embrace it, however. That's when she decided to ask the other women to pay it forward as well, and the traveling sisterhood was born. Since then, the dress has been worn by two women and set to be worn by 10 more. Heinz explained that two more women will wear the dress this year, four next year, and another four have yet to set their wedding dates. 

The first bride to take part in the gown-sharing sisterhood was Arianna Pro, a mother of four who wore the dress during her and her husband's vow renewal in San Francisco on August 23.

She just happened to be browsing on Facebook when she saw Heinz's dress and posted the first comment. "When my husband and I got married, it wasn't a necessity to have the big dress and the big party. We had just lost a son, and we needed a little light in our lives," Pro told Inside Edition. "When I saw the dress, all the feelings came back. It was overwhelming. She [Heinz] snowballed my dream to have a real wedding." 

The experience was "surreal" for Pro, who hadn't felt like a real bride the first time around, but certainly did with Heinz's gown on. "It was so amazing to get the recognition as a bride. You are wearing this beautiful dress and everyone is gawking at you ..." Pro said. "I shipped the dress to the next girl. I know how I felt when I wore the dress, and we get to pass that feeling on." 

For Heinz, the experience has been "like another dream."

"A dress just really brings out the beauty inside of a woman ..." she added to A Plus. "Seeing all these women happy and in my dress on their wedding day ... it just gives me [a] feeling similar to what I felt in my dress." 

The next recipient of the dress was Valarie Fitzgerald, a who donned it a few days later in Omaha on August 26. "We live paycheck to paycheck, so there was no way we could find the money to get a dress," Fitzgerald told Today. "But it was very important for us because we waited so long to get married and felt like it was the right time." 

The Heinzes can certainly relate to living with financial difficulties, as they were once homeless themselves. Their faith guided them through that uncertainty and even gave their last dollar to the offering at church. Soon after, their lives turned around when they became personal trainers, with the everyday goal of helping others feel good about themselves. 

Passing down her gown to 12 (and counting!) other brides is just another way for Heinz to make a positive impact. "Just something as simple as a wedding dress can brighten someone's day," she told A Plus. "It's just incredible to see their emotions change about the whole day, especially when they're less fortunate and don't have money to go and do something like that." 

Because all of the women who will wear the dress are based in and around the Omaha area, Heinz has already made plans to get coffee and lunch with Pro and Fitzgerald. "We've had a close connection since them wearing the dress," she said. Not only has Heinz forged new bonds with the women who will wear her gown, but five other women have also reached out to her, saying how she's inspired them to give away their wedding dresses

Aside from other women who may want to donate their old dresses, she hopes anyone learns a simple yet nonetheless, important lesson from her story: "You can just give things and not really expect anything in return." 

(H/T: HuffPost


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