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Ohio Son Takes Mother to Prom She Never Had: 'I Knew Since I Was 11 I Would Bring Her As My Date'

05/04/2016 AT 03:20 PM EDT



Talk about a loving son.

MelRo Potter always wished she could have gone to her prom, but the 36-year-old mother was unable to attend when she became pregnant at 16 and dropped out of high school.

So when her son, Gahanna Lincoln High School senior Trey Potter, asked her to be his date to his own prom, she couldn't believe it.



"I told him, 'Are you sure you really want to spend your special night with your mother? You would do that for me?' " MelRo, who lives with Trey in Columbus, Ohio, tells PEOPLE.

"I said 'Absolutely!' " Trey, 18, tells PEOPLE. "I knew since I was 11 I would bring her as my date."

On April 16, the beaming mother walked into a downtown Columbus event center on Trey's arm with "wide-eyes and excitement showing on her face."

"She looked so beautiful!" says Trey. "She didn't look 36 at all, she looked 16 again. It meant a lot to me to see her so happy."

Ohio Son Takes Mother to Prom She Never Had: 'I Knew Since I Was 11 I Would Bring Her As My Date'| Real People Stories, The Daily Smile

Trey and MelRo Potter

MelRo Potter


MelRo, a model and advocate for foster youth, experienced child abuse from family members growing up and was placed into the foster care system at a young age. While in the system, she experienced traumatic physical and sexual abuse.

"I went directly from foster care into teen pregnancy," says MelRo. "When I got pregnant with Trey, I dropped out of high school and moved to a teen parenting shelter. It was hard, but we made it work."

The mother worked two jobs to support her newborn son and eventually got her GED.

"I basically skipped the whole high school teenage experience part," says MelRo. "Everyone else was having normal teen lives with college and prom. It was difficult and there were times I cried, but I had to stay strong for Trey."

She adds, "That's why this gesture from my son meant so much: He was giving me an experience I didn't have growing up."

Ohio Son Takes Mother to Prom She Never Had: 'I Knew Since I Was 11 I Would Bring Her As My Date'| Real People Stories, The Daily Smile

MelRo with Trey shortly after he was born

MelRo Potter


MelRo says when she was a pre-teen she had imagined her high school prom would be "like a fairytale."

"I always thought I would wear a big princess ball gown and have the hottest guy in school take me, and he would look like my celeb crush: Johnny Depp!" she says. "I thought that if I had a perfect prom everything would be worth it. So when I got pregnant, I told myself, 'Okay I'm not going to prom, I'm having a baby instead.' And that became a theme in my life from then on."

Ohio Son Takes Mother to Prom She Never Had: 'I Knew Since I Was 11 I Would Bring Her As My Date'| Real People Stories, The Daily Smile

MelRo and Trey share a moment at his high school prom

MelRo Potter


Trey remembers hearing about prom growing up.

"I thought it was this big-kid dance that my mom never got to go to," he says. "As I got older, I realized how special it is for girls and I told my mom when I was 11 that I was going to take her."

The doting son, who will be the first person to attend college in his family, officially asked his mother to the school dance in January.

"She didn't actually think I was serious until about a week before prom," he says. "But she has done so much for me, I wanted to fill that void that had been empty for years."

Ohio Son Takes Mother to Prom She Never Had: 'I Knew Since I Was 11 I Would Bring Her As My Date'| Real People Stories, The Daily Smile

Trey picking out his tuxedo for prom

MelRo Potter


The mother-son duo spent all day primping and prepping for the big night out on April 16.

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"I felt like a model and a movie star!" gushes MelRo. "I loved my dress, but I loved my date even more. Turns out he was even more handsome than Johnny Depp! I just felt like the luckiest mother alive."

Ohio Son Takes Mother to Prom She Never Had: 'I Knew Since I Was 11 I Would Bring Her As My Date'| Real People Stories, The Daily Smile

MelRo at prom

MelRo Potter


MelRo and Trey walked into the event together and spent the night laughing and dancing.

"All eyes were on us. It was beautiful and magical. When I walked in I said 'I cannot believe I am actually here. I'm really at prom!' " says MelRo.

"This was her night, not mine," says Trey. "And that's how I wanted it."
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