• Living
  • Parenting

Michigan Teen Asks Mom to Prom After Discovering the Tearful Reason She Skipped Her Own

2 minute read

Working up the courage to ask a date to prom can be nerve-racking – especially with the recent trend of elaborate promposals.

But one Michigan teen decided to go the traditional route for his very non-traditional date – his mom.

Danotiss Smith, an 18-year-old high school senior from Pontiac, Michigan, fulfilled his mother’s lifelong dream when he asked her to go with him to the prom.

“I was flattered,” Belinda Smith told ABC News. “I asked him, ‘You don’t want to ask someone else? You don’t have a special friend, someone cool that you can have fun with?’ I’m still elated. I’m just so happy that he wanted to share his day with me.”

Danotiss was inspired to invite his mom to the school dance after learning the heartbreaking reason she couldn’t attend her own prom 24 years ago.

When Belinda was 11 years old, her mother died from leukemia, and she and her siblings moved in with her grandmother. Times were tough for the family, and when Belinda was in high school, she couldn’t afford a lot of extra expenses.

“A couple people asked me to prom, but I had to turn them down because I didn’t have the funds to purchase a dress,” Belinda, 41, told WDIV-Detroit. “It was hard. I went home and cried because I wanted to go.”

Now, decades later, her wish is finally coming true.

“I am overwhelmed,” she told the station. “I’ve been waiting for this.”

“She teared up,” Danotiss said of when he asked his mother to prom.

“Some of my friends said it was kind of weird,” he added, laughing. “But some of them said it was kind of cool. Nobody has ever done that before.”

A beautiful orange dress has been purchased, and Danotiss says he will give his mom a white corsage when the two head to the Waterford Kettering High School prom together on Friday, according to ABC News.

“I just want her to enjoy it,” he said. “I want her to get that experience and have some fun.”

This article originally appeared on People.com

Last Dance: American Proms by Gillian Laub

From left: Miguel Castanos, 18, Eliza Lopez, 18, Flavio Fonseca, 18, Alexandra Mata, 17, Deliala Robles, 17, Arturo Garcia, 20San Luis High School, San Luis, Ariz.San Luis High School is located on the U.S.-Mexico border, and several of the students traveled across the border to get their hair and makeup done for the prom.Gillian Laub for TIME
Alexandra Mata, 17San Luis High School, San Luis, Ariz."It’s the one event that brings the whole school together,” Mata says.Gillian Laub for TIME
Joseph Dell Ramirez, 17 (at right)Elkton High School, Elkton, Ore.“I wanted to try something original that I knew no one else would do," Ramirez says of his suit. He originally planned for purple and white, until he saw the green option at the tux shop.Gillian Laub for TIME
Janika Oikarainen, 17Elkton High School, Elkton, Ore.Oikarainen is an exchange student from Finland. "I didn't really have any expectations," she says.Gillian Laub for TIME
Christy FloresElkton High School, Elkton, Ore.Flores, from a town about a half an hour's drive from Elkton, attended the small school's prom.Gillian Laub for TIME
Norah Owings, 18, and Noah Miller, 18Elkton High School, Elkton, Ore. Elkton is one of the smallest schools in the country: there are 15 students in this year's graduating class.“Some of us have been together from preschool through 12th grade," says Miller.Gillian Laub for TIME
Amber Jones, 18Montgomery County High School, Mount Vernon, Ga."There's not a lot to do in these parts, so prom is really the only time we get to dress up and hang out together," she says.Gillian Laub for TIME
Sibongile Toure, 16Benjamin Banneker Academy, Brooklyn, N.Y.“I always knew I’d go to prom—it’s such a tradition,” says Toure, who predicts she’ll be the only student to wear a headscarf at her June 13 prom. “You can be proper, dress modestly and still have fun.”Gillian Laub for TIME
Alexandra Mata, 17San Luis High School, San Luis, Ariz.Mata traveled to Mexico to have her hair and makeup done for prom.Gillian Laub for TIME
Anna Karpman, 18Dwight-Englewood High School. Englewood, N.J.“It’s a last hurrah,” says Karpman of her senior prom, held on May 18. “The boys finally look together, and with the girls, it’s all about who they’re wearing.” Karpman, above, who plans to attend parsons the New School for Design in New York City this fall, chose a Vera Wang dress, Jimmy Choo heels and an Oscar de la Renta cuff.Gillian Laub for TIME
New Jersey's Dwight-Englewood School held its prom in a rented hall in midtown Manhattan.Gillian Laub for TIME
Allison White, 17, taking photoJoplin High School, Joplin, Mo."It’s celebrating the end of the year and everyone has a good time at prom," White says. "It’s just a happy time.”Gillian Laub for TIME
Tyler Hankins (right), 18Joplin High School, Joplin, Mo. The Joplin prom was held almost exactly a year after a deadly tornado ripped through the area.“Everyone knew a friend who lost someone or something in the tornado last year,” says Hankins. “The student body seemed a lot closer this year.”Gillian Laub for TIME
Dominique Mayfield,16, at left, and Matt Parsons, 17.Joplin High School, Joplin, Mo."When we got there everybody had fun and everybody forgot about what had happened," Mayfield says of having prom one year after the Joplin tornado.Gillian Laub for TIME
Dillon Worth, 18, and Eugene Caban, 17The Boston Alliance of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth, Boston. The BAGLY prom is the nation's oldest prom for LGBT students.“I wouldn’t feel comfortable at my school with the homophobes who are there,” Worth says. “At BAGLY, you can go wild, be yourself.”Gillian Laub for TIME
Daunasia Yancey, 20, at left, and Alyssa Green, 21.The Boston Alliance of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth, Boston."BAGLY is a great opportunity to be with other young LGBT youth in a party atmosphere. You don't get that often," says Yancey. "I went to a pretty accepting high school but it's just more comfortable to be with people like you. I'm not 'the lesbian' in the group. I don't stand out."Gillian Laub for TIME
Karl Jacobs-Brown, 21The Boston Alliance of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth, Boston"It's an iconic reference," says Jacobs-Brown of his Carrie-inspired costume. "I love horror movies."Gillian Laub for TIME
Sisters Brooke, 18, and Bethany Beecher, 20, get their hair done for prom, at a dance studio run by a friend.Mount Vernon, Ga. Gillian Laub for TIME
From left: Brooke Beecher, 18, Juquan Peeples, 17, Holden Boone, 18, and Bethany Beecher, 20.Montgomery County High School, Mount Vernon, Ga. Until 2010, Montgomery County High School held separate proms for African-American and white students. Brooke Beecher was crowned prom queen at this year's integrated event.Gillian Laub for TIME
Juquan Peeples, 17, and Brooke Beecher, 18Montgomery County High School, Mount Vernon, Ga. "It’s really the parents who care, but when it’s just us, everything is cool," says Peeples of being part of the only interracial couple at a formerly-segregated prom. "I’ve been talking to Brooke since sixth grade.”Gillian Laub for TIME
Shamonte SharpeMontgomery County High School, Mount Vernon, Ga.Sharpe poses near the store where she bought her dress.Gillian Laub for TIME
Quanti Jorden, left, and Rashada WilliamsMontgomery County High School, Mount Vernon, Ga.Jorden and Williams pose by a car.Gillian Laub for TIME
Brooke Beecher, 18, leftMontgomery County High School, Mount Vernon, Ga.Beecher's grandmother, Peggy Glisson, says that seeing her granddaughter get dressed—"seeing how pretty she was"—was the best part of preparing for prom.Gillian Laub for TIME
KayKay McGowan, 18The Boston Alliance of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Youth, Boston."I've gone to it twice and it's always the best time," McGowan says of the BAGLY prom. "It's just a good time where you don't have to feel insecure about yourself."Gillian Laub for TIME
Sara Oliff, 17Dwight-Englewood High School. Englewood, N.J."It's a fun time to be with your friends, the last big party," says Oliff. But the prom itself wasn't the most fun part of prom: "The best part was probably the bus ride."Gillian Laub for TIME

More Must-Reads From TIME

Contact us at letters@time.com