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      Mother honors daughter by offering free school dance experience

      F ancy gowns for homecoming and prom can be costly , so a northern Michigan mother is making sure everyone has something special to wear on their big night, free of charge.

      T he project is called Chelsea's closet and it was started by a Cheboygan mother to honor her daughter who died in 2012 after a lifelong battle with cystic fibrosis.

      C helsea Hudak was known as an outgoing, generous girl who was willing to share anything.

      H er giving spirit is exactly what inspired her mother Jeanette to loan out her dresses that Chelsea once wore to dances at Cheboygan High School.

      " I know the feeling Chelsea got and how much she enjoyed the whole process, so it's kind of as if I am helping Chelsea get ready for a dance once again," Hudak said.

      A t first , J eanette only had five of Chelsea's dresses to loan to girls who could not afford one. But as the word spread throughout the community, Chelsea's closet began to fill up.

      "I come home from work and there's just a box of dresses waiting for you ," Hudak said.

      N ow she has 100 dresses, donated from all over the midwest.

      " Her dad is going to have to build a bigger closet ," Hudak said.

      A rea business have also joined the effort to give the girls the full experience.

      T he dresses are dry cleaned , the girls hair and nails are done , and they get a picture to remember the night , all completely free.

      " I think it's a great relief for parent who can't afford it and really wants their daughter to go," Amy Swiderek, OnSite Imaging photographer said.

      E ach of the photos will join the ones of Chelsea that overlook the dresses that hang throughout the room and serve as a gentle reminder to Jeanette of all the good her daughter's dresses have done.

      " Every picture I have of her , t he smile that's on her face I think that's the smile she has looking down knowing that these girls are going to prom ," Hudak said.

      J eanette says this program is open to any girl in northern Michigan and she says many have already signed up for their next dance and she hopes many more will do the same.