Riley prom-goers call it 'chance to feel normal'

Published: .
Updated: .

Every shake, every step, every smile. Everyone at Riley Hospital's Under The Sea Prom works to overcome a common challenge.

At Riley Friday afternoon, there were preparations before the prom. A little make-up here, a little there, a little getting-pretty everywhere. It was the spa treatment for the 100 or so current or former cancer patients at Riley.

"I was diagnosed in October," says 16-year-old Lindsey Zelt, once a Riley patient. Her leukemia in remission now after a long, successful stay at Riley, where she got to know other young people on the same floor, in the same fight.

"I think it means a lot to them," she says of her friends. "To know they had cancer and they're still special and they can go to a dance and be like a normal person."

A room full of beauty experts volunteered time and talent to make beauties even more beautiful.

"She's a pistol," said Jeff Bowling of her daughter, 9-year-old Sydney, who is fighting brain stem cancer. "They gave her 12 to 15 months when they diagnosed her," he says. That was three years ago.

"She fooled them, and they were glad when she did."

Kids who've shared a lot share this night.

"Its a celebration," says mom Ashley Bennett. "We're so excited to be reunited with some of the staff members at Riley." Her 10-year-old daughter Maria is all smiles and says she's here "just to have fun - to let go of all the stuff that is at home and just have fun."

Party, crown the king and queen - the royalty is hospital staff, elected by the kids - and be with friends.

"And to show them that we're winning this fight," says Ashley.