Donated dresses help promote the donation of life

Donate Life Dress Giveaway
Published: Mar. 27, 2023 at 6:25 AM EDT
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WATERTOWN, New York (WWNY) - There were hundreds of dresses to leaf through at the Donate Life Dress Giveaway, but Laura Reff had already seen the perfect one.

“This was her favorite color, aqua blue,” she said, referring to her late daughter, Lucy.

“Lucy was a simple dress girl,” Reff said. “She hated dresses, technically, but she was happy to get one for prom or homecoming and she was excited to get her wedding dress. But it had to be simple, nothing too flurfy, as she would say.”

Lucy fell very ill very quickly in 2019 from an undiagnosed cyst in her brain. She bought her wedding dress but passed away just two days later.

“Bella Bridal, through social media, saw the situation and offered her dress to us for her burial,” Reff said, “so we were able to use that for her funeral.”

Touched by the story, Bella Bridal’s owner wanted to do more. She donated hundreds of brand-new dresses for a fundraiser, where gowns were given away by donation, big or small.

“So, if you can be generous, that’s great, but we also understand for people that can’t afford very much, they can do whatever is comfortable.”

But the real donation that matters here, is organ donation.

“Lucy was able to save four lives,” Reff said. “We are in contact with three of them. Her kidney recipient went to a grandpa in the Rochester area, her liver went to a grandma on Long Island, but her heart went to a 30-year-old doctor. That’s a special significance obviously in Lucy’s situation.”

Lucy was in her last semester at Upstate University Medical Center studying respiratory therapy when she passed. Her heart recipient is an ICU doctor.

“So, she works with transplants a lot,” Reff said, “so it’s kind of come full circle.”

Lucy’s legacy lives on in her recipients, It lives on in the smiles from these gowns. And it lives on whenever her story inspires someone to register as an organ donor. If you would like to sign up, visit

If you would like to purchase any remaining dresses, there’s another Donate Life Dress Giveaway in the Syracuse area on April 8 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Marcellus Fire Station. If you would like to donate money, contact Laura Reff at 315-767-1588.