Lurie Children’s Hosts its First Prom for Patients

More than 20 patients attended Lurie Children’s first prom, “Bright Lights, Big City,” held at the Family Life Center.
Patient Tanari Cabrera hits the dance floor with Child Life Specialist Kim Yoder.

Recently, the hospital’s Family Life Center was given a facelift. For one very special night, the toys, coloring books and puzzles were tucked away, replaced by a dance floor and a DJ booth. Girls in long, flowing dresses and boys in “tuxedo” t-shirts danced overlooking the night lights of Chicago.

The setting was Lurie Children’s first prom night, “Bright Lights, Big City.” More than 20 patients age 15 and older who were unable to attend their own prom were treated to a day of pampering and a night of fun and dancing in the beautifully-decorated Family Life Center. Accompanying each teen patient was a date or friend.

The idea for the prom came from Maria Davalos, founder of Princess Closet, an organization that donates formal dresses and accessories to teens. She reached out to Family Life Center Coordinator Jessica Merar about the possibility of the hospital holding its own prom.

“We put together a committee to start planning the event,” said Merar. “Through months of planning, it came together because of the amazing and generous response from local businesses willing to donate their time and services, as well as from our own hospital staff volunteers.”

Patient Taliah Norwood gets some pointers on mixing music from DJ Scotty Kay.
A young couple enjoys a moment on the dance floor.

In addition to Princess Closet, which donated dresses for the girls, others donating their services included party planner Ana Christina Joseph from Deseo Events; Modern Wave Salon, which treated patients to hairstyles and makeup; Tablescapes, which provided tables and a dance floor; and 103.5 FM, whose Scotty Kay was the DJ. Lurie Children’s volunteer Peter Wagner served as prom photographer, while fellow volunteer Liz Fernandez provided manicures. A photo booth provided a fun diversion, and hospital horticultural expert Robbi Hursthouse created silk corsages and boutonnieres for guests.

“It was really nice that the hospital staff thought to throw a prom for the older patients,” said heart transplant patient Katie Remiyas.

Also enjoying the evening was Cardiology nurse Elizabeth Karnes, APN, who came in during her off-hours to help out.

“The Child Life team was so wonderful in engaging the kids,” she said. “To see the smiles on the faces of kids who were going through such a stressful time was absolutely amazing.” ​​