HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) — A group of educators who planned their wedding ceremonies throughout the pandemic got extra help on Monday.

Satin & Lace Bridal Boutique in Riverview partnered with Hillsborough County schools to give away wedding dresses to educators. They previously gave away dresses to nurses who responded to patients during the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

Local educators were nominated for the event.

The CEO of the Regent Hotel in Riverview, Shannon Keil, is a coronavirus survivor herself. She partnered with Hillsborough County Schools after her own diagnosis and the loss of her best friend.

“We had all these dresses to give away,” Keil said. “And as the program went on, people started donating more dresses, and I had 25 to start with and by the time we were finished, I had 52 still to give away. So we decided educators would be an amazing next group of people to give these to. Because they had to pivot during COVID and they had to change how they had to do things, as well.”

Keil was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Aug. 6, the same day as her best friend.

She said her friend did not survive.

“I got COVID August 6th,” Keil said. “Me and my best friend did, and my best friend didn’t make it. And they were thinking that I wasn’t going to make it. And they called me a ‘walking miracle’ when I walked out of the hospital. And so, that means a lot to be able to recognize people that were still working and doing things to support those of us who were going through those kind of things.” 

Giving back is the reason Keil began the journey. She said it’s been an amazing journey watching the brides try them on.

“That’s the thing with all these dresses. Everybody who’s come in to try them on, I got to be in the room and have that ‘mother of the bride’ moment with the dresses, because the dresses are like my babies.” Keil said. “And so when a girl found her dress and it was like, like a girl meeting my baby, and it was for her, I don’t know how to explain it, but it was fun. We got to experience that emotional ride with her.” 

The Regent, located on Watson Road in Riverview, is popular for wedding receptions. The venue has a list of preferred vendors for brides and more information listed online.