Special prom for Riley Hospital kids


It was a special evening for hundreds of young cancer patients at Riley Hospital for Children at IU Health, for the third annual Riley Cancer Center Prom.

For one night, they have music and dancing and fun, all the excitement of prom.

At Riley Hospital for Children, it's a chance for families used to hospital rooms to forget about chemo and cancer and celebrate life.

Four-year-old Bella Clevenger has ALL, a form of leukemia.

But at the prom, she's just a little girl having the time of her life.

Bella spent most of the night on the dance floor with her younger brother.

"She's gone through so much that this is really what she needed," Bella's mom Kady Clevenger said. "To see them that happy and have them laughing and those two playing together, it hasn't been that way since she was diagnosed."

All of the children got dressed up and decked out with pampering from head to toe even before the big dance.

"The hospital has 'Promingdales', which you get to pick your dress and they treat you like princesses," explained Riley patient Maddy Justice. "This was the first one I picked and I liked it because it was colorful and sparkly."

13-year-old Maddy, who is battling acute myloid leukemia, will receive a bone marrow transplant from her sister this summer.

Friday night, they were a perfect match on the dance floor too.

"It means so much," said Maddy's mom Marizel Justice, "to get away and to do something that's exciting and fun. She and her sister have been looking forward to this all day."

"I love this because after being stuck in the hospital for so long, it's good to get away from it and feel like normal again, and not like a hospital patient," Maddy added.

Because at the prom, at least for a little while, cancer doesn't exist.

Donations and money raised through the Riley Children's Foundation pay for the annual prom, making for a night the patients say they never forget.