By Sonya Vartabedian
---- — The newly crowned Miss Massachusetts has a real-life prince in the form of an Andover cobbler to thank for her rhinestone-encrusted tiara and pageant sash.
Caroline Lunny says if it wasn’t for David Yaboujian of David’s Shoe Repair on Bartlet Street, she probably wouldn’t be headed to the Miss USA pageant next year.
The Holliston woman was in rehearsals for the Miss Massachusetts pageant last month in Lowell when one of the straps that held her 6-inch heels on her feet suddenly ripped apart, rendering them unwearable.
With just four hours to go before the start of the pageant — and knowing her daughter’s white, beaded pageant gown was expertly tailored to the shoe’s exact towering height — her mother, Kate, leaped into action.
Unfamiliar with the local area, she drove north from Holliston and ended up in downtown Andover.
Here, she dashed into Cristina’s Bridal Shop downtown with the hope she might pick up a replacement pair. But while the bridal shop staff proved friendly, they were unable to help.
“These were size 10, 6-inch heels. They said that kind of shoe had to be custom-ordered. I wasn’t going to be able to find another pair,” Kate Lunny said.
But Cristina’s offered one possible solution in the form of Yaboujian.
The cobbler had just closed his shop that Saturday afternoon, but agreed to wait 30 minutes while Kate Lunny retrieved the shoe from her daughter.
Thirty minutes turned into 90 as Kate Lunny waited to gain access to the pageant arena. All the while, she kept calling Yaboujian every quarter-hour, urging him to “please, please don’t leave.”
Sure enough, he didn’t, sticking around to repair the broken shoe and reenforce the other half of the pair.
Saying he understood the importance of the occasion, Yaboujian wouldn’t take any more than the $20 he would have normally charged for the job.
“It wasn’t like she was going on a date or something. She really needed the shoes,” he said. “I couldn’t charge extra. I didn’t stay for the money. I did it from the heart.”
But Kate Lunny handed him a $50 tip — and a promise.
“When she wins, she is coming here to give you a hug,” Kate Lunny said of her daughter.
The repaired shoes made it back to Caroline Lunny 15 minutes before she was to board a motor coach to take her back to the arena for the night’s competition.
Three hours later, she was standing in her newly repaired shoes being crowed Miss Massachusetts 2014.
Last Friday, Caroline Lunny and her mother made good on their word. The grateful pageant winner who turns 23 this month delivered a hug and a heartfelt thanks to the man who kept her on her feet. They posed for photos with the now lucky pair of shoes and she even persuaded the generous cobbler to try on her sash.
“We did it ... we did it together,” she told Yaboujian. “You saved the day. I won because of my shoes.”
Caroline Lunny said she was so proud of herself for finding one pair of nude-colored patent shoes to match all her pageant outfits. She never imagined they might break.
“As soon as I put them on after he fixed them, I knew I was good to go,” she said. “They were solid. I can’t thank him enough.”
Kate Lunny said what impressed her most about Yaboujian was his willingness to help a total stranger.
“He didn’t know me from a hole in the wall,” she said. “He stayed for me. He is such a sweet gentleman and did such a good thing. He should be applauded. He’s just amazing.”
Caroline Lunny vowed to return to Andover one more time before she heads to Miss USA next June. Saying she’s not taking any chances, she will be bringing Yaboujian her pageant shoes to make sure they’ll hold in place.
“It truly is a real Cinderella story,” her mother said.