MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital joined Houston restaurants and businesses to host a special prom for its teen patients and their families Saturday night.
Sponsored by Peli Peli Restaurants, National Association for Catering and Events (NACE), and the Sunshine Kids Foundation, the event gives teen patients and their families a chance to experience prom.
This year’s theme was inspired by the award-winning film “La La Land,” a romantic comedy.
Tuxes were donated for the young men. The young women had their choice of formals, and there were racks of them from which to choose. Volunteer stylists and makeup artists completed the transformations.
“Enjoying normal activities is not always an option for patients who are undergoing cancer care,” Program manager Tomika Gamble said. “We are grateful to our sponsors for making prom such a special event for our patients and families. The event itself and the anticipation of it helps take their minds off treatment, if only for a short time.”
The night included three separate parties, so the entire family could enjoy the occasion. Sunshine Kids hosted a party for the younger patients and siblings with several activities, including arts and crafts, face painting, caricature drawings, arcade and board games, and music.
Parents and caregivers were able to enjoy a casino-style party in another part of the hospital with their own DJ and selection of jazz music.
There were a variety of booths hosted by restaurants and businesses serving food and desserts for guests to enjoy throughout the evening.
Maggie Howard, 16, underwent treatment for bone cancer at MD Anderson. The cancer was discovered when she was injured after playing volleyball.
“I can’t do impact sports now, so I play golf,” she said.
She recently won a competition title at Magnolia High School.
“This is my third prom here,” she said. “My friends ask where I am sometimes, and I say, ‘at the hospital.’ And now we have proms at the hospital. It takes your mind off the treatment. And it just makes you happy.”
Dozens of patients packed the top floor of the building, with a skyline view. A DJ had them on the dance floor. They sang along with the songs, and moved in choreographed unison. Every face had a smile.
Thomas Nguyen, co-owner of Peli Peli Restaurants, works with local popular restaurants and businesses to participate in the annual prom.
“Happiness is the best medicine,” added Howard.
“I look forward to this event each year. Bringing the community together to support the kids is important to me,” Nguyen said. “I like to see families relax and have fun.”