Pediatric Patients Traded In Their Hospital Gowns For Ball Gowns At This Superhero-Themed Prom

"For some seriously ill pediatric patients, this prom may be a once in a lifetime opportunity... It's a night that every kid should have."

On May 19, patients at St. Joseph's Children's Hospital in Tampa, Florida traded in their hospital gowns for sparkly superhero outfits and danced the night away at its seventh annual prom.

"Children with chronic or life-threatening conditions sometimes miss or have to delay traditional childhood rituals, such as playing a team sport, slumber parties, learning to drive and participating in high school dances," Jazleen Vecchiarelli, manager of clinical services for St. Joseph's Children's Hospital said in a statement. "Our extraordinary team of Child Life Specialists organize special events, like prom, to provide patients with experiences that they might not otherwise have due to treatment and hospitalization."

The all-day event features all the traditional aspects of a perfect prom, from selecting gowns and suits at a pop-up dress shop in the hospital to professional hair and makeup styling. At the dance itself, kids of all ages indulged in refreshments, took keepsake photos, and of course, busted some seriously sweet moves to the tunes of a professional DJ. 

"This year, we have an amazing comic superhero theme to honor our little super heroes here," Elizabeth Walters, one of the child life specialists at St. Joseph's, told WFLA, a local news channel in Tampa. "They miss out on so many things that normal kids go through. We want them to experience that, too. When they miss their dances or their prom, we want to be able to give them that opportunity and share it with all their friends and family." 

Because the hospital believes "no child should have to miss prom because of an illness or injury,", the prom is open to patients of all ages, not just high school students.

"For some seriously ill pediatric patients, this prom may be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Vecchiarelli further explained. "It's a night that every kid should have, no matter how sick, which is why we gave our patients a chance to go to prom now." 

While more than 100 patients attended the most recent prom, one seasoned veteran of 7 proms, Antonia "Noni" Gurley told WFLA that every year is better than the last. "It makes me happy to see people, especially the patients out there — dancing, having fun, not thinking of pain," she added. "That's what puts a smile on my face every single day." 

As for next year's prom... well, our countdown has already begun.

A Plus has reached out to St. Joseph's Children's Hospital for comment.

(H/T: WFLA

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