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Ontario woman kicks off 'long shot' search for wedding dress after dad mistakenly donates it

Walsh's wedding dress can be seen above. Earlier this year, it was donated to a Bowmanville thrift shop. Now, she's looking to find it again. (Handout by Walsh) Walsh's wedding dress can be seen above. Earlier this year, it was donated to a Bowmanville thrift shop. Now, she's looking to find it again. (Handout by Walsh)
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A woman in southern Ontario is making a plea to the public and kicking off a "long shot" search for her wedding dress after her father accidentally donated it earlier this year.

Tanya Walsh, of Hamilton, Ont., said she has lost sleep for nights on end and “shed many tears” after finding out that her wedding dress, previously stored in the closet of her deceased mother, had been donated.

“All wedding dresses are special,” Walsh said. “But most importantly, it was a dress my mother bought right before she passed away.”

At the time of her wedding, in the summer of 2018, Walsh said her mother was in palliative care. Their ceremony only had 14 guests, she said.

“At first, I didn’t want a wedding dress but my mom and dad got married at city hall and never had a proper wedding dress,” Walsh said. “So I got the dress in hopes that it could just serve as a memory when she's gone.”

Walsh said her mother died the next fall, just a few months later. She says she then stored her wedding dress hanging in her late mother’s closet, along with the dress her mother had worn to both her and her brother’s weddings.

“For safekeeping,” she said.

Walsh can be seen in her wedding dress above.

But come February, during a visit to her father’s home to celebrate a late Orthodox Christmas, she said he informed her that he had accidentally donated the dress while clearing out the closet.

She said she doesn’t blame her father for the misunderstanding, and said he didn’t really know what he had donated.

“Needless to say, Orthodox Christmas was kind of a bust,” Walsh said. “I was pretty emotional – I'm getting emotional just thinking about it.”

Walsh said she’s sure the dress was donated to either the St. Vincent de Paul Value Store or The Salvation Army in Bowmanville. She said she called both, but neither had seen the dress come through their shops.

In a post shared to social media Thursday, Walsh made a plea to the public.

“This is a long shot, but my broken heart needs to attempt this,” she wrote, asking for community members to keep an eye out for the gown.

“If anyone has any leads on this or any advice on how I can help circulate this, please, please, please let me know.”

In the nearly 36 hours since sharing the plea, it has been shared nearly 1,000 times.

She said she’s received a number of tips, but so far, nothing has panned out.

Now, Walsh wants to expand the search radius, asking residents in nearby southern Ontario towns to keep an eye out in any second hand stores they find themselves in.

“It could be anywhere,” she said.

Details of Walsh's wedding dress can be seen above.

The dress was made by Morilee, is ivory with a champagne overlay, has a rhinestone A-line waist, a halter top neck, and the breast cups sewn in,  Walsh said.

At this time, Walsh said she's not in a position to purchase a new dress, and, with two kids, doesn't have the time to search every possible store, so she's hoping her call to action may prompt someone to recognize it and contact her.

“This dress was to serve as something to keep forever that would help remind me of [my mom] and act as a special heirloom for my own children,” Walsh said.

“I have two girls now and I am devastated that I don’t have this for them one day, marriage or not.”

Walsh's wedding dress can be seen above.

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