In December of 2015 I spent 10 days on the pediatric floor of Kaiser hospital with my then 9 year old daughter. We had gone through a lot in a short space of time. From unknown illness to surgery to recovery. It was the holidays, and all our plans and traditions were thrown out the window. For ten days my bedroom, office and living room were the room where my girl was. It was one of the hardest experiences I’ve ever had as a mother. As the days passed and she started moving more – getting up and walking around the ward and to the lobby – I noticed the closed doors of the other families on the floor. I rarely saw other parents or other patients. On a bright morning near the end of her stay, Lauren got to participate in a Santa visit. She went downstairs where Santa rode up on an antique fire truck. The event had been put together by a little girl who was turning 12. She was a cancer survivor who had spent over 100 days on the peds floor. I chatted with her parents and friends and the realization of just how lucky we were struck me even harder. Some of the other kids from the ward came down to see Santa as well. IV poles, wheelchairs and face masks their accessories. Despite the fact my child had been so ill death was a possibility, she was the most well child on the floor. As I looked at those kids and their exhausted parents my heart broke open again for all they had been through and the journey they still had ahead. I knew that soon I would be able to pack Lauren up and take her home. The tiny silver Christmas tree her dad had brought her to give her some holiday cheer would be replaced by the giant trees we had at home. There would be no yearly scans to make sure she was still well. Her problem was fixed, she could go back to normal. Many kids on a peds floor don’t get to go back to normal.
While we were on the floor, I made the acquaintance of the Child Life Specialists and many amazing nurses. Many had been involved with a pediatric cancer organization I’d volunteered for. Traci, the child life specialist brought up the prom they were hoping to throw for the kids who’d missed their proms because of treatments or illness. She wondered if I would be willing to help with a photo booth and pictures. How could I say no? How could I not pay forward the blessing of normal we had been given? I wanted to do everything I could to give those kids a night of normal.
This year was the second year I’ve been a big part of Peds Prom. We take a hospital conference room and transform it into a prom that basically would put any normal prom on blast. We do it UP for these deserving kids. Being in the event industry in Sacramento for as long as I have means I know a whole bunch of folks who provide amazing stuff to make events incredible. I am so incredibly grateful to the people and companies that volunteered their time and products for this event. I also am so very grateful for the generous people who gave to our YouCaring fundraiser. None of this would have happened without these awesome people. These kids had one hell of a normal night and I am SO grateful we were able to give it to them. Thank you just doesn’t seem like enough.
Special thanks to: Sound Image Entertainment for the awesome DJ skills, lighting and pipe and drape that transformed this conference room into a tropical paradise. Celebrations for the linens, chairs and tables. Botanica for the incredible lounge furniture that made the kids feel SO cool. Flourish for the vases and non-floral centerpiece ideas. The Wake Up Call for coming and being our Emcee’s for the night and making the kids feel like rock starts. To the Sacramento Kings for blessing us with two awesome players and, of course, our beloved Slamson. Jill Mansfield for helping with the the crazy amount of shopping we had to do for this, manning the photo booth and making sure we had lots of social media presence. Dustin Whitehead for going above and beyond with your photography, photo booth and even video skills! Not to mention all the set up you helped with. You drive a giant truck better than anyone!! The volunteers who helped put this all together and make this night so special and safe for the kids. My Prom Committee cohort – Traci and Bobbi. It is an honor to do this with you every year! And thank you from the bottom of my heart to everyone who donated to make this night possible. We are forever grateful for your generosity. Thank you for giving these amazing humans a night of normal.