Danielle Trotta, 17, is known for her toughness on the softball field, but people who know her are more likely to talk about her positive spirit.
The Seaford High junior, who also attends the GT-Tech program in Levittown for cosmetology, pitches and plays a mean third base on her school's softball team and is widely known for her great attitude, cheerful demeanor and infectious smile. "She's absolutely a person who brings positive energy and smiles to people around her," says Seaford High School guidance chairman Frank Stazzone.
The wonderfully upbeat demeanor of this young woman is at odds with "all the obstacles she's had to overcome," says Stazzone. Indeed, life has thrown some very difficult curveballs at this year's Project Prom girl. Superstorm Sandy virtually decimated her house, leaving her family displaced for months, and repairs continue even now.
Much worse, in 2008 her dad, Christopher -- by all accounts a beloved community figure -- died after being in a coma for four months, brought on by cardiac arrest.
"I feel like Danielle deserves a special day because she has gone through so much in the past five years," wrote her mom, Kathy, in a letter nominating Danielle for Project Prom, Newsday's yearly feature.
"After losing a husband, you learn to put things in perspective," wrote Trotta. But, she added, she couldn't have managed the Sandy cleanup without her daughter. "Danielle worked countless hours helping to clean out the house. She must have carried out hundreds of big black bags to the curb. I don't know what I would have done without her."
Says Seaford High's softball coach Bob Perpall, "Danielle is an effervescent little bubble of energy. . . . She reminds me a lot of her father -- full of energy, full of life -- always doing things for other people." Included in her good works: numerous walks for charities and the school's "Best Buddy" program, aiding children with special needs.
Apparently, this apple didn't fall far from the tree. It should be noted that Danielle's dad's initials, "CT," are embroidered on all the girl's softball uniforms -- some of which he generously donated, along with a batting cage, long before she was on the team.
But, back to the all-important prom dress. Danielle's style crushes include Taylor Swift and Demi Lovato, so with these young divas in mind, we embarked on an epic shopping spree at four stores: Sugarplum in Garden City, Bloomingdale's at Roosevelt Field, Alight in Plainview and Estelle's Dressy Dresses in Farmingdale.
Nine hours and at least 60 dresses later, Dani, as she's called by friends and family, narrowed it to four.
After that, it was off to Newsday's studios, where a glam squad from Maximus Spa Salon got Dani ready for her close-up. "It's like putting me all back together and in place," said Dani."It's amazing."
It seems so appropriate that Dani's school motto, imprinted on the back of all the practice shirts, is "Never Quit." Says Coach Perpall, "That sums up Dani and her whole family," which, besides her mom, includes sister Katie, 24, and brother Christopher, 19. "I'm so glad you picked her."
And so are we. And now, readers, it's your turn. What should Dani wear to her June 20 prom at The Carltun in Eisenhower Park? It's up to you.
1. Field of Dreams
The empire waist of this stunning abstract floral print by Alex & Eve is embellished with turquoise, citron and royal blue crystals for added wow factor. Available at Alight, Plainview.
This ethereal number by Terani Couture boasts a glamorous gold and crystal beaded bodice and white chiffon skirt. Available at Sugarplum, Garden City.
Crystals, rhinestones and sequins create a floral motif on the shirred bodice of this dreamy lavender one-shoulder job by Janique. Available at Estelle's Dressy Dresses, Farmingdale.
Vote in our poll (above right), or mail your vote to:
Newsday Prom Dress
235 Pinelawn Rd.
Melville, NY 11747-4250
Mailed and online votes must be received by May 15.