Community donates perfect prom night to Buchholz High couple
Published: Wednesday, April 24, 2013 at 2:47 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, April 24, 2013 at 2:47 p.m.
It was a Sunday evening, and Brielle LeClear was tired from a run.
She didn't feel like going to the mall, but her boyfriend, Zak Faust, talked her into it.
Instead of driving to the mall, Zak, 17, got on the highway.
"Why is he going this way?" thought 16-year-old Brielle. She just wanted to go home.
Up ahead, she saw the Northwest 23rd Avenue bridge over Interstate 75 and something spelled out with 600 red Solo cups. That afternoon, Zak had spent five hours and $50 in cups spelling out the question in the chain-link fence that extends the length of the overpass.
That was April 7. She said yes.
But the story didn't end there. Zak's proposal was still visible Monday morning when people got on I-75 to go to work.
Commuters contacted radio personality Chris Wells, of 98.5 FM's KTK Mornings with Storm & Chris. She, too, was curious.
"You just want to know the whole thing," Wells said.
She brought the story up on the air the following Wednesday, posting a photo of the proposal on her Facebook page and the KTK page asking listeners to help her find Brielle. In the meantime, she asked the morning commuters, "What if we just gave them a really great prom?"
A staff member at Haile Village Spa & Salon heard the story on her way to work and called in, said Katelyn Smith, the spa's director. Brielle will have her hair and makeup done at the spa, free of charge.
Smith said Haile Village Spa & Salon often donates haircuts — as many as to 100 at a time — for charity events and at community centers for the disabled or homeless. Helping one girl look perfect on her prom night would be easy, she said.
"That's small beans to us," Smith said. "We just thought we'd help out."
Jeff Warden, owner of Glass Slipper Bridal in Fort White, and his wife raised four daughters. They all went to proms and beauty pageants. From experience, he knows the dress is important.
"We know how it is," he said.
So the business called in and told Wells that Brielle could have any dress she wanted from the shop. Glass Slipper would set up Zak with a tuxedo, too.
By the time a friend had tracked down Brielle and told her to call into the station, photographer Julie Walker had offered the young couple a free photo shoot, Terri Monaghan of Wahoo Seafood Grill had offered a free dinner, a listener had donated $200 toward the cost of a limo, and David and Tami Wyse said their Big Frog Custom T-Shirts shop would supply shirts with a photo of the highway proposal.
"It just really touched everybody," Wells said. "We had so much fun with this. "It was the sweetest thing."
Zak, a senior who takes dual-enrollment classes at Santa Fe College, and Brielle, a Buchholz junior, were floored. They're not limelight seekers. Both tall and lean, with sun-browned skin, the teenagers shrug and smile a lot while telling the story of the highway proposal.
Students at school heard it on the radio and recognize them in the hallways, they said. It's kind of weird. But they're looking forward to May 18, the special night. They're thankful for the handful of strangers who just want them to have a great time.
"It's inspiring," Brielle said.
Zak agreed. "It makes you want to pay it forward."
Contact Erin Jester at 338-3166 or firstname.lastname@example.org.