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Local woman’s ‘Mom Prom’ idea raises millions for charity, inspires movie

 Local woman’s ‘Mom Prom’ idea raises millions for charity, inspires movie

Mom Proms have raised millions of dollars for charities across the United States.

In 2005, when Betsy Crapps and a few of her friends decided to wear their several-years-old prom and bridesmaid dresses to an Oscars watch party, she had no inkling the night would evolve into a multi-million-dollar non-profit charitable organization — or inspire Hollywood screenwriters to turn the concept into an upcoming major motion picture.

But close to 20 years later, that’s exactly what has transpired — and Crapps couldn’t be more happy for all of the charitable foundations her Mom Proms have benefitted.

“It still feels surreal,” admitted Crapps, who estimates Mom Proms have raised up to $7 million in 43 states. “One of the best things for me is meeting so many incredible women who organize their own Mom Proms and are making such a difference in their communities.

“It’s really personal for a lot of these moms. For instance, there’s a mom in Charleston, South Carolina, who raised money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation because her son has CF. And there’s a mom in Massachusetts whose son had brain cancer — thank goodness he’s in remission now — who raised money for pediatric brain cancer research.

The ‘Wow!’ factor

“Every so often I’ll scroll through our website (momprom.org), see how much we’ve raised for charity and think, ‘Wow! This is really cool’.”

Betsy Crapps is pictured with friends at a South Lyon Mom Prom
Betsy Crapps is pictured with friends at a South Lyon Mom Prom

The inaugural Mom Prom was held in 2006 at St. Thomas a’Becket Catholic Church in Canton, where Crapps and her husband Wally lived at the time (they now reside in South Lyon).

“The year before our first official Mom Prom, 12 of us went out for dinner and dancing in our old prom and bridesmaids dresses, and we laughed the entire night,” Crapps recalled. “We had so much fun, I thought, ‘We’re not the only women who would find this hilarious’.”

The inaugural Mom Prom was attended by 80 women at St. Thomas a’Becket and the proceeds were donated to a family shelter on Michigan Ave. in Canton.

Mom Proms are similar to traditional high school proms as DJs play music while attendees dance the night away in their outdated dresses.

Timberlake, Hemsworth attend (kind of)

The biggest difference (along with the fact that alcohol is served at the must-be-21-and-over Mom Proms) is that the only male attendees are life-sized celebrity cardboard cutouts — Chris Hemsworth and Justin Timberlake, to name two — the ladies can take fun photos with as their dates.

Betsy Crapps and her daughter Katherine were featured in a Mom Prom article that ran in a Kuwait newspaper
Betsy Crapps and her daughter Katherine were featured in a Mom Prom article that ran in a Kuwait newspaper

“We had a cardboard cutout from Sheldon on ‘The Big Bang Theory’, but women were taking it out on the dance floor to dance with so much, it got beat up and we had to throw it out,” Crapps said, laughing.

The night concludes with the presentation of a few awards, including Tackiest Dress and the Aqua Net award for best hair.

“You’d be amazed at how wild some of the dresses women wear are,” Crapps said, smiling. “It’s hard to believe people actually wore them out in public back in the day.

“Our best one ever was probably worn by a woman who couldn’t fit into either one of her prom dresses anymore, so she sewed them together and wore the combined dress.”

Global explosion

In 2011, the Mom Prom concept went viral, Crapps explained, after an Associated Press video/article was shared globally.

“Newspapers across the country — even one in Kuwait — picked up the story,” Crapps said. “That’s when things got really crazy.

Mom proms were featured on an edition of Saturday Night Live in 2011
Mom proms were featured on an edition of Saturday Night Live in 2011

Good Morning America and the CBS Early Show came to Michigan to do features on Mom Prom — and Saturday Night Live actually made fun of us on its Weekend Update.”

Several southeast-Michigan communities hold annual Mom Proms, including South Lyon and Northville.

Crapps, who hasn’t made a dime from the time she has put into helping women organize Mom Proms across the country, said the Canton Mom Prom — held at the Fellows Creek Golf Course clubhouse the past several years — chooses a cause to donate funds to each year (this year’s Canton Mom Prom is sold out).

Owen Strong

This year’s recipient will be a foundation set up to help fund medical expenses for Owen Gibbons, who suffered a spinal-cord injury while swimming on July 4th, 2023. Next year’s recipient will be the Shedneck Foundation.

“Some years we receive several requests, which makes it tough to choose one,” Crapps said. “Other years, we’ve only had one request.”

The cost for the Canton Mom Prom is $55. Crapps said if businesses or individuals would like to to help sponsor the event or donate a prize for a raffle, they can email Crapps at themomprom@yahoo.com.

You do not have to be a mom to attend a Mom Prom, Crapps added.

“As long as you’re 21, you can be a mom, an aunt … whatever,” she said, smiling.

Lights, camera, action!

The movie — a comedy titled “Mom Prom” — will be produced by STX Entertainment, whose projects include “Bad Moms” and “The Covenant.

Betsy Crapps is pictured with her sister Katie
Betsy Crapps is pictured with her sister Katie

Crapps said the project is still in the planning phase, so a release date won’t be known for a while.

“It’s very exciting, to say the least,” said Crapps.

Don’t be surprised if the woman behind the inspirational Mom Prom — and several of her friends — wear a prom dress to the premiere.

Ed Wright can be reached at 734-664-4756 or edwright@socialhousenews.com.

Buying or selling a home this year? Working with our real estate company, Social House Group, helps us bring you more good news. If you’re considering a move, schedule an appointment with Erik Wright today by calling or texting him at (734) 620-4736. We’d love to help you with your next move!

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Ed Wright

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