Basically Belle

East junior brings Disney love to Autism Walk/Run

By Mattie Zautner, Current Staff

Her yellow gown twirled around her feet as she danced the night away with her beast.

For as long as she can remember, Gabby Diaz, a junior at West Bend East High School, has loved the Disney princess Belle. This obsession inspired Diaz to dress up as Belle for a recent Autism Walk/Run, attend prom wearing a dress similar to Belle’s gown and start her own party entertainment business. Her princess career has already begun and she plans on continuing to be a role model to all the little girls and boys out there.

On May 6, Diaz volunteered to dress up as Belle for the 3rd Annual Autism Awareness 5K Run/Walk. Her family has connections with the owner of Lori’s Costume Shop, and they were in need of another princess and thought Diaz would be perfect for the job. At the event Diaz talked to the kids as Belle in order to brighten their day.

“One little kid’s mom told me that was the first time her son smiled that whole day and it makes me so happy because they look up to Belle and see her as someone they want to be like,” Diaz said.

Dressing up as Belle for the Run/Walk was not the first princess gig Diaz has had. Her princess career officially began when she dressed up as Anna from the movie “Frozen” for an event at the Milwaukee Athletic Club in January. She plans on being Belle for the Run/Walk next year and having her boyfriend, Brett, be the Beast.

Diaz’s obsession with Belle is supported by her parents, who help her manage her princess career.

“I am so proud of her,” said Monica Diaz, Gabby’s mom. “I tear up just remembering how excited the children were to see her as Belle. She made everyone feel special.”

Belle has been Diaz’s favorite Disney princess ever since she was a little girl. She even had a Belle game on her computer that she would play all the time. She remembers watching “Beauty and the Beast,” a movie about the princess who wasn’t a damsel in distress but rather a powerful woman who can stand up for herself and her family. This inspires Diaz to be a princess for the kids she sees when she puts on the yellow gown.

Gabby Diaz in her prom dress.

“She defied the stereotypes that came with being a princess,” Diaz said. “In her time, a woman wasn’t encouraged to receive an education, but she wanted to learn so she did and in doing so, became a role model for women who want to be educated.”

Diaz plans to expand her princess career by starting a small party entertainment business. The planning is still in the works and she hopes it will spread by word of mouth. She is trying to get friends and co-workers to be princesses, too. Her dad has volunteered to be the Beast for the parties.

The theme for prom this year was “Be Our Guest,” which was perfect because Diaz had already purchased her yellow prom dress that was not so coincidentally chosen.

“It just kind of made this addiction worse,” Diaz said.

She figured that her boyfriend would do a Belle-style promposal, which he did by asking her to be his beauty.

“I think that it’s great that she can have the environment and support to be able to do that and not be just stuck in this world where everyone has to be the same,” said Brett Kannenberg, a sophomore at West Bend West High School.  “It is not only just for herself but also helping the community and she can inspire others to chase their dreams regardless of being different.”

(Photos above are courtesy of Monica Diaz. The photo below is courtesy of the Kannenberg family.)

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