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The Ultimate in Style and Grace: The Legacy of Becca Kirtman

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Rebecca "Becca" Kirtman was a special teen with an enormous heart and resolve. At the young age of 15, she was already working on the framework for what was to become her legacy, "Becca's Closet." Becca, a cheerleader and National Honor Society student with a penchant for making life better for those less fortunate, created a program for donation and distribution of formal dresses for students who would not otherwise be able to afford to attend the Ball, prom, homecoming, or other formal high school affairs in style. By her sophomore year, she single handedly collected and distributed 250 dresses to students.

In 2002, I had the pleasure to meet Becca at the home of my dear friend, her Aunt Jackie. Becca was a lovely and polished teen dressed in a stylish cropped shirt, and hip hugging pants, ready for fun. I recall her doing the normal teenage routine, hanging out with her cousins and my son at the local National Coney Island. Becca was striking, not just a meet and greet, she was memorable, grounded beyond her years and had a purpose. By that time, Becca was already on her way to making her dream a reality.

Becca was to become an angel way too soon. A year later, nine years ago this week, a tragic accident took her home to God. But Becca's amazing family has kept her memory and passion alive through her legacy. They knew her zeal for living and helping young women all too well, helping them get ready for the rites of passage into the formal event world.

Immediately after Becca's passing, her family formed the non-profit organization, "Becca's Closet." I went to Becca's Closet in Ft. Lauderdale and observed young women excitedly sifting through beautiful and gently used gowns, transforming them into Cinderella for the ball, right under the smiling picture of Becca on the wall. The only qualification for the students: They had the need for the gown, and proof that they are a high school student (school photo ID presented at their appointment), nothing more.

While many hear about Becca's Closet from teachers and counselors, individuals can make their own appointment. Through happy tears, I saw Becca's parents, Jay and Pam, and volunteers assist the young women to find the dress that could change their young social lives; Impressive and remarkable to say the least. This was nothing short of magic, all because of Becca's high school dream for the student's life changing moments at the direction of Becca's plan.

And Becca lives on in that dream. Many volunteer-run Becca's Closet chapters have donated hundreds of thousands of gowns to young women around the country, in the Bahamas and Singapore. Donations come from private donations from individuals, dress manufacturers, and retailers. Since 2004, the foundation has awarded more than $100,000 in post- secondary scholarships to high school seniors who demonstrate exemplary service to their schools and communities and are committed to a lifetime of community service. Becca's Closet and its volunteers have been featured on NBC, CNN, MTV, VH1 and many news outlets.

Becca would have celebrated her 25th birthday this year. Her life is celebrated every time a young woman graces the ball with the spirit of her dream. This story and legacy is nothing short of spectacular, the living plan of Becca and her loving family.

I can't think of a better demonstration of style or grace than the legacy of this young lady with a dream.

Please take a look at your own dresses in your own closet that have created your memorable, life changing moments. Perhaps someone is waiting to create their own with your help. Help keep Becca's legacy alive.