Local restaurants and businesses bring prom to MD Anderson

Teen cancer patients and their families prepare for an enchanting night under the stars

The University of Texas MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital joins Houston restaurants and businesses to host its second annual Prom Party Palooza, a prom for teen cancer patients and their families. The glamorous night takes place at MD Anderson on Saturday, April 29 from 6 to 9 p.m.

A “Beauty and the Beast” inspired theme is the backdrop for the fun-filled evening. Patients and guests 13 and older will enter the red-carpeted event in MD Anderson’s observation deck, a glass-enclosed veranda with a spectacular view of Houston’s skyline.

Festivities will include dancing, delectable food and drinks, photography and videography, goody bags stuffed with prom party favors, and a visit from former first baseman and Major League Baseball Hall of Famer Jeff Bagwell, who spent his entire 15-year career with the Houston Astros.

“Prom is one of the many ways we celebrate our patients and their brave fight against cancer,” said Kevin Long, director of Pediatric Operations at MD Anderson. “Many patients miss the opportunity to attend their school proms while undergoing treatment, but thanks to our wonderful and caring community of businesses that donate goods and services, we have the privilege of bringing the prom experience to them.”

The elegant night not only caters to teen patients, but includes parties for patients’ families. Sunshine Kids will host a separate, concurrent party for patients and siblings ages 13 years and under. Arts and crafts, face painting and caricature drawings will be offered, along with refreshments and goody bags. The party takes place in Kim’s Place – an MD Anderson recreational lounge for teens and young adults named in honor of Houston Comets WNBA champion Kim Perot, who died of lung cancer 16 years ago. A third casino-style party, complete with food and a live band, is hosted for parents in The Park at MD Anderson.

“Three separate parties allow the entire family to experience the joy of prom,” said Thomas Nguyen, co-founder of Prom Party Palooza and co-owner of Peli-Peli restaurants in Houston. “Parents and siblings are also affected by the challenges of cancer, so it makes sense for the entire family to enjoy the fun times.”

This year, the Houston Chapter of the National Association for Catering and Events (NACE) joined Peli-Peli and others as a co-sponsor and Marine Express Foods, a local family-owned seafood distributor who co-sponsored prom last year, is helping to underwrite the event.

Prom week is kicked off with a two-day “dress-and-suit shop” hosted by NACE and Al’s Formal Wear. Patients have an opportunity to select tuxedos and choose from hundreds of dresses generously donated by the community and Stage Stores. Prom Prep hosts, Kendra Scott and Pageboy, add “glamour” to the magical night with Kendra Scott providing patients and families with an opportunity to design a piece of custom jewelry to wear to the prom; and Pageboy offering hair, makeup and nail styling.

“Our Chapter members are excited to be co-sponsoring this year’s prom at MD Anderson,” said Jill Vidal-Raines, NACE Houston President. “Knowing we are all collaborating to provide a magical night for teen cancer patients and their families is a proud and humbling experience.”

Other businesses supporting Prom Party Palooza include: Adair Kitchen, Bernie’s Burger Bus, BraeBurn Country Club, Brennan’s, Cane Rosso, Dish Society, Dolce Bocatto, D. Jones Photography, EB Inc. Events, Freezing Point, iHostPoker Casino Parties, Ideal Party Decorators, J & D Entertainment, JKB and Johnny Mac, Melange Catering & Events & BOH Rentals, Paulie’s, Pepperoni’s Pizza, PXLS Studio, Ritual, Sephora, ShutterBooth, Snooze, Stage Directions Inc., and Taste of Texas.