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After having her life saved by nurses, wedding event site host surprises them with free wedding dresses

Shannon Keil gave away gowns to brides-to-be who work in hospitals around Tampa Bay after surviving her own COVID-19 battle.

RIVERVIEW, Fla. — Finding the perfect dress for that special day can be daunting. Shannon Keil wanted to ease the burden.

“These dresses are going to healthcare workers. They are going to people who gave and gave and gave while the rest of us had to sit still,” said Keil back in July.

The CEO of The Regent in Riverview wanted the dresses to be a thank you. The gowns were donated to her by nearby Satin & Lace Bridal. Keil understood the stress those hospital workers much have been facing with patients during the nearly two-year COVID-19 pandemic.

She never expected she’d wind up in those same nurse’s care.

Keil caught COVID-19 and spent time in the hospital. Doctors didn’t expect her to survive. After recovering, she had the honor of surprising local hospital staff this week with chances to try on dresses at The Regent.  

“COVID has taken from us but it’s also given to us. It’s given us relationships,” said Keil during the dress presentation. “I wasn’t sure exactly how this was going to go but once we got started the momentum kept building and building until it imploded today. That was exciting to watch and watch all the joy in the room and watch all the brides excited about their dresses.”

Women were nominated by friends and loved ones and the winners were chosen. The dresses were all valued at between $800 and $2,500. The brides-to-be were thrilled with their new dresses and excited about their future weddings.

“I was dreaming about it at night. I brought my grandmother with me. We looked at the rack, she picked one out, I tried that one on first and that was the one,” said nurse Stacy Hudson. “She loved it. I loved it. It was a great experience.”

The dress winners represent nurses from all over Tampa Bay.

“I was in ground zero of ground zero and it was very difficult,” said Katrena Flowers, a traveling nurse during the pandemic who is soon-to-be-married. “I learned a lot. I saw a lot and it made me appreciate the things that I have here.”

The giveaway was a success. Keil has more dresses she will match with future brides-to-be in the coming weeks.

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