UCSF staff puts on prom for pediatric patients

Lauryn Gaines' smile and laughter is contagious. The 17-year-old is preparing for her first prom, but behind the laughter is pain. Gaines has sickle cell anemia.

She spends a week at a time, twice a month at UCSF Children's Hospital in Oakland.  The staff is throwing their pediatric patients a prom to ease the pain and for a sense of normalcy.

Her make-up is applied by a professional and Gaines knows exactly how she wants it done. "Anything that's like black, edgy, punk. I'm here for it. Glitter do it," she said. 

"It's a turning point into adulthood for children who are hospitalized. I think having access to these kind of events is even more important. Because of that potential feeling of isolation that you can have in the hospital," said Divna Wheelwright, Manager of Child Life Services at UCSF Children's Hospital Oakland.

"When you're in the hospital you're focused on your pain your sickness, whatever so it's good to get away from that for a minute," Gaines said.  

It took 50 volunteers several hours to transform the cafeteria into a place the children will remember Prom of 2019. 

All of the teens were given the 'star' treatment free of charge. From hair and make-up to dresses and suits, the young men and ladies were treated to an amazing night; one that they will likely never forget.

"We've really tried to do all we can to cater to our teens to really show them that they can experience something special," said Wheelwright.  

"It means everything to see our kids be able to come out and get dressed up and participate in a supportive environment," said another parent Kathy Mosley. 

From a DJ to food and a photo booth, the experience is top notch.

Hospital officials said this is of the utmost importance. Because everyone deserves to feel special.  

"I appreciate it so much and I think it's very nice that they got us all together. You know everyone who donated dresses and jewelry, make-up and whatever. I think it's very sweet and generous," said Gaines.

This is the third year that UCSF has put on a prom for their pediatric patients. But it's the first time it was held in the hospital. That way outpatients and those who have longer stays are able to enjoy the experience like everyone else.