The Short of It
Friends of a Massachusetts teen who died in August are wearing the prom dress she wore last year to honor her memory.
Dad Gregg Malatesta described his daughter Catherine, who died at age 16 just 8 months after being diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, this way to ABC News: "She was fearless; she was confident; and she had an incredible amount of courage. She just loved being around her friends, children, teaching, helping others."
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Catherine's friend, Emma Schambers, told ABC News she remembers her friend as "a very vibrant, always positive person," who "was always smiling, always happy." After Catherine's death, Emma stopped by the Malatestas' home from time to time to talk about her. During those visits, the teen's mom, Jennifer Goodwin, gave her and her friends some of Catherine's things so they could remember her.
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On one occasion, the girls spotted the sparkly, blue dress Catherine wore to her junior prom.
"We all tried it on, and we said, 'Oh my gosh, we should all wear this,'" Emma recalls. "I think it's really magical that we all fit into the dress."
Catherine's friend Jillian wore the gown first to her junior prom, which was at the same high school where Catherine wore it. Emma will soon wear it to her upcoming prom, and then two more of Catherine's friends plan to don the dress to their proms.
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"I guess for us, it's a way to keep her spirit and legacy alive. It's really special that these girls were so passionate about wearing the dress. That was the last time they saw Catherine out-and-about with her radiant smile and having a great time at the prom, so I think for them, it's pretty special," Catherine's dad says about the friends' sweet gesture.
Emma adds, "Catherine would be very happy. If she was alive, I think she'd offer her prom dress to us. It's a very important thing to capture her memory because prom was a very special time for her. She told her mom, it was the first time in a long time that she felt beautiful inside and out."