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Big City Investment Banker Turns Fairy Godmother; Provides Prom Dresses

April 27, 1991

WILLIAMSBURG, Ky. (AP) _ Dozens of Cinderellas in southeastern Kentucky got to go to the ball in fancy dresses this weekend thanks to a New York investment banker playing fairy godmother.

Dan Haughton says he was touched by a newspaper report on poverty in the area, including the story of a high school senior who said she her family could not afford to buy a prom gown.

To remedy the situation, Haughton got former Harvard Business School classmates to donate no-longer-needed finery.

Stacey Rainwater, a senior at Williamsburg High School, was among those trying on one of the last-minute arrivals Friday.

″Look 3/8″ she said to her mother as she emerged from the bathroom in a blue dress with a kerchief hemline. ″God, I love it. It’s my favorite color.″

Haughton said he saved the Wall Street Journal article he read last May, and when he came across it in January, he thought: ″Here’s something I can do. It’s not going to be expensive, it’s relatively easy to do, so I’m going to do it.″

He and his wife, Nell, wrote 130 former Harvard classmates in a dozen states. After some follow-up calls, they collected 104 dresses, including a couple of designer originals.

The dresses arrived in Whitley County earlier this month. Seventy-five girls, selected on the basis of need, picked out their favorites at a fashion show.

Some could not find dresses that fit. And some of the dresses, the ones Haughton described as ″bridesmaid dresses from the ’70s,″ just weren’t stylish enough.

So, Haughton persisted. He solicited a few more dresses from friends, persuaded a store to donate two and bought half a dozen.

Annette Huddleston hadn’t planned on going to the prom. Going would have meant her busy aunt or mother would have to make a dress, she said. Buying one would have been out of the question.

Friday, she picked out a flowing blue dress for Saturday’s dance.

″This is the chance of a lifetime,″ she said.

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