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In The Glow fashion show in Bel Air spotlights special homecoming dresses

When Savanna Testerman finished eighth grade, she still had a dress from the eighth-grade dance she had never even worn.

"I outgrew it, so I gave it to my cousin," the Monkton resident, now 15, recalled.

She also gave away last year's homecoming dress to a freshman classmate.

That idea of handing down dresses is why Savanna said a special fashion show of homecoming dresses, held Sunday at Bel Air's Arena Club, made a lot of sense.

The show was the first big event by In The Glow, a non-profit founded by Harford native Amber Kreisel to empower young women.

Her first campaign, called Dress Your Glow, brought in more than 900 dresses to donate to girls with the idea they will "pay forward" and return the clothes when they are no longer needed.

"I think it's a great idea," said Savanna, one of many girls who came to check out the event, even if they did not necessarily walk away with dresses.

For a $5 admission fee, girls and their parents could take in jewelry and accessories vendors, a self-defense demonstration and two speakers.

They could sift through a rack of sample donated dresses, take pictures in front of a glitzy backdrop and, ultimately, even buy the dresses modeled by 30 young women during the high-energy fashion show.

About 100 people attended the show, which Kreisel said was roughly her goal.

"Honestly, this event today is my dream come true," said In The Glow's founder.

The 26-year-old project manager at Booz Allen Hamilton graduated from C. Milton Wright High School and has a background in public relations from Wingate University in North Carolina.

Her ultimate goal, however, was to launch a non-profit and help other young women. Kreisel said she hopes to find a permanent space for In The Glow, ideally in Abingdon, and offer services like information on interview skills and applying for scholarships.

It is based on a "women-helping-other-women philosophy" and "paying whatever you have forward," she said.

"My biggest philosophy is, character is helping those who can do nothing for you," Kreisel said before the show, looking confident and calm in a neon-pink In The Glow T-shirt.

She noted about 50 girls have stopped by In The Glow since it opened just a few months ago. The non-profit is not based on need, and any girl can get a dress.

The girls who strutted down the runway on Sunday were equally excited to be part of the event.

"It's like a library for dresses," observed Lindsey Whitt, of Street. She is 21 and already graduated but said she would have loved to have had In The Glow around when she was younger.

Of course, they also enjoyed getting made up and walking down the runway.

At the end of the show, all the girls came out in a line, each holding an adjective describing themselves on a card, such as "Crazy" or "Super Star."

"I just think it's a really good idea because there's a lot of people who are not as fortunate," Gwen Gasu, 14, said.

Several girls and parents who came to take in the show also said they liked the mission.

"This sounded like a great idea," Kim Sadtler, of Forest Hill, said. She was browsing through dresses with her 14-year-old daughter, Miranda.

Sadtler said it reminded her of a similar event held by Mountain Christian Church, and they decided to see it after reading about it in The Aegis.

Tara Norona, of Elkton, and Josie Brown, of Rising Sun, both 15, were lounging on the synthetic turf field before the big show.

Josie said they came "to find good dresses for a low price."

Tara added she thought the speaker "was really good."

Wendy Wright, of The Wright Fit, gave a few style and clothing tips, while Tracey Keyser, of Pathways to Whole Living, said girls need confidence about their own personalities.

"What they need to know is who exactly they are," Keyser said. "Make sure you walk out into this world knowing exactly who you are."

Kreisel told the audience In The Glow will only succeed with community support.

"I really, truly feel like this is what I am supposed to be doing," she said of her organization, adding she wants to empower others to feel the same way.

"I want to take my glow and share it with everyone here," she said.

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