When Catherine Malatesta attended her junior prom as a 16-year-old in May 2015, just six months after being diagnosed with a stage 4 tumor called epithelioid sarcoma, she knew she didn't have long. What the student council president and field hockey team captain didn't know was that almost exactly a year later, four of her friends would, in quick succession, wear her dress to their own proms in honor of the last time they saw her feeling so good. As ABC News reports, Catherine died in August, and her friends' tribute is "a way to keep her spirit and legacy alive," her father, Gregg Malatesta, says. "She was fearless, she was confident, and she had an incredible amount of courage."
Childhood friend Jillian was first to wear the dress on April 15 to her junior prom. Emma will wear it to her senior prom on May 13; Lauren to her senior prom on May 20; and Carly to her senior prom on June 2. Catherine, who had once donated to Locks of Love, wore a real-hair wig to her prom last year, as Boston.com reported at the time. At the dance, "she had the most glorious night of her life," her mother, Jennifer Goodwin, said. And even though her prom came the day after she was released from the hospital and she was very frail, as Today reports, Catherine told her mother that in that sparkly dark-blue dress, with her hair done up in a braid, "for the first time in a long time, I actually feel beautiful." Her mother was happy her daughter had that moment toward the end and calls the tribute the "Sisterhood of the Traveling Prom Dress." A GoFundMe page has been set up for donations to a scholarship fund. (Meanwhile, these students were suspended for their prom dresses.)