High school students who survived last year's devastating tornado in Joplin, Mo., enjoyed a prom to remember last week thanks to the support of national businesses, the local community and one very dedicated teacher, MSNBC reports.
After the massive tornado barreled through their town last May, Joplin High School students lost a lot -- friends and family members were killed, homes and possessions were destroyed and their high school was reduced to a pile of rubble.
With so much rebuilding yet to be done and classes still being held in makeshift school buildings, students have been making do with what little they have.
So, when prom season rolled around this spring, it seemed unlikely that the Joplin High students would get to enjoy a special night of their own.
But thanks to teacher Amber Travis, the high schoolers not only got to attend their school prom, but they did it in great style, KSHB News reports.
"This is the happy moment that they should look forward to every year -- even when times get rough," Travis said.
To fulfill that goal, Travis started a fundraising effort earlier this year. Hoping to garner support, she appealed to the Joplin community and wrote letters to national talk shows, big corporations and celebrities.
Before long, the help began to pour in.
Celebrity makeup artist Melissa Blayton started the Joplin Prom Project that would go on to collect more than 1,000 donated prom dresses; Fed Ex donated $2,500 and a corsage or boutonniere to every senior; and local Joplin businesses, such as Men's Wearhouse and a photography company, offered discount prices or free services to high school students preparing for prom.
Even those with little -- like Joplin's Liz Easton -- tried to give as much as they could.
Easton, who lost her home and her cupcake business in the tornado, single-handedly made 1500 cupcakes for the prom.
"You have to dig deep for courage and strength that you never tapped into before. You just do it cos if you don't, you'll curl up and die," Easton said. "The more you help others the faster you heal."
Even pop star Katy Perry got involved -- sending a video of herself to the school in February to tell the high schoolers to get ready for a wonderful prom.
"Words can't express what it means to me, to us," high school senior Yainer Oviedo told KSHB News after she heard about all the help the students would receive. "It has been intense."
As Perry predicted, the prom -- which took place at the Holiday Inn Convention Center with the fairytale theme "Once Upon a Time" -- was a roaring success, KCTV reports.
"I’ve been excited for months now, jumping up and down like a little girl,” senior Shalea Purdy told the Joplin Globe. “It’s a lot better than what I imagined it would be."
As the Joplin community works to rebuild and to heal, the prom has been a reminder for what can be achieved when you work as a team.
"It is just a victory call, that this is our city," Joplin High School student Morgan Burnside told KCTV. "We are rebuilding… No tornado can take us down."