Celebrating Quinceañera At 40, Woman Helps Other’s Dreams Come True Too

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – You’ve heard the saying “it’s never too late for anything.”

One woman proved that Saturday night at the Lowes Hotel in Center City Philadelphia. It was the celebration she’s been waiting her entire life for.

Charlie Fusco went from rags…

“I was your average kid growing up in Los Angeles and one day I realized we did not have any money, and we became very poor very quickly.”

…to riches…

“I just figured it out, I started a production company and I didn’t think I was a CEO then. I was just a girl with a baby and a production company and it’s been 15 years, and now all of a sudden that’s what I am.”

It’s been quite the journey for the current wife, mother of three and CEO of Synergixx in Sewell, New Jersey. So when it was time to celebrate her 40th birthday, she wanted to do something special:

“We turned it into a charity gala for three organizations,” she says.

It was also transformed into the Quinceañera she never had as a teenager.

But while having the party of her dreams, she didn’t want hers to be the only one to come true.

“The charities that we are raising funds for all support youth opportunity in their own way,” she explains.

They include Covenant House PA in Philadelphia, Open Hydrant Theater Company in the Bronx (who performed at Saturday’s event) and iLead, Pacoima in California, where 11-year-old Albert Barajas is a part of.

Albert designed Charlie’s dress for the party.

Charlie thanking Albert for all his work. (Credit: Andrew Kramer)

Charlie thanking Albert for all his work. (Credit: Andrew Kramer)

“I’m so moved by this little boy,” Charlie says. “He’s never met me before this weekend and he spent four months on Skype with a designer here in Philadelphia, Stephanie Nichols. She was able to mentor him.”

“I thought about making a dress that looks like a flower,” Albert says.

“The skirt is flower petals of red and fuchsia and purple,” says Charlie, “and the body is the stem and the stem is dark green and light green and the top part grows and there are leaves everywhere and the designer has actual drill bit screws to weigh down the petals and there’s 200 feet of fishing line that make the skirt.”

She didn’t see the dress until a grand revealing at the event. And after 85 hours of labor to make it, according to Nichols, it was well worth it Charlie says:

“It’s really is a unique design, I really do feel like the belle of the ball, this flower that this kid created. I’m a lucky girl that people spent five minutes thinking this was a good idea. I would have never envisioned this for myself, but now I can’t envision myself in anything else.”

She says it was one of the most impactful moments of the night:

“I’m 40, it’s my birthday…none of that matters, but the fact that we were able to create this opportunity, this moment for this kid, that to me is so exciting.”

But the evening featured other special occurrences, tying into the Quinceañera traditions.

There was a cake that looked just like Charlie’s dress. Her father-in-law gave her away during the dress reveal.

There was the court dance which dozens of guests learned that night, honoring Charlie’s 15-year-old self being allowed into society.

 

There was the court dance which dozens of guests learned that night, honoring Charlie’s 15-year-old self being allowed into society.

And then there was the doll tradition, where Charlie is supposed to reject a doll given to her, saying she’s no longer a girl, she’s an adult.

The not-so-traditional doll ceremony at Charlie's Quinceañera. (Credit: Andrew Kramer)

The not-so-traditional doll ceremony at Charlie’s Quinceañera. (Credit: Andrew Kramer)

But at 40, she used this as a chance to thank Stephanie instead, by putting people’s notes of inspiration on the doll.

Overall, if what just a humbling night for Charlie:

“For me it’s really redefined what success means as a person and CEO, and I think we all talk, as business owners, about giving back and being part of our community, and tonight I looked around and it’s not really about my birthday, it’s about me doing something right enough that people would spend their Saturday night with me, enrich it, design it, create it and celebrate it.”

As of Saturday night, nearly $13,000 was raised. Thanks Charlie! And Feliz Cumpleaños!

Hear the full interview with Charlie during her big night in this CBS Philly podcast…

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