Prom Comes to Teen Cancer Patients, in the Hospital

Houston restaurants, businesses support a star-studded night

Special Note:  All prom events are open to media, including the dress and tux selection, and hair and makeup appointments.

The University of Texas MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital joins Houston restaurants and businesses to host a special prom for its teen patients and their families. The third annual Prom Party Palooza will take place at MD Anderson Saturday, April 28 from 6 to 9 p.m.

Prom Party Palooza, sponsored by Peli Peli Restaurants, National Association for Catering and Events (NACE), and the Sunshine Kids Foundation, gives teen patients and their families a chance to experience prom on a grand level. This year’s prom theme is inspired by the award-winning film, La La Land, a musical romantic comedy.

“Enjoying normal activities is not always an option for patients who are undergoing cancer care,” said Tomika Gamble, program manager of camps and special events at MD Anderson. “We are grateful to our sponsors for making prom such a special event for our patients and families. The event itself and the anticipation of it ­helps take their minds off treatment, if only for a short time.”

The glamorous night will include three separate parties, so the entire family can enjoy the occasion. Sunshine Kids will host a party for the younger patients and siblings with an array of activities including arts and crafts, face painting, caricature drawings, arcade and board games, and music. Parents and caregivers will enjoy a casino-style party in another part of the hospital with their own DJ and selection of jazz music.

The main event for prom night will take place in MD Anderson’s observation deck, a glass-enclosed veranda with a magnificent view of Houston’s skyline in the background. Patients and guests 13 years and older will dance under the stars to music hosted by popular Houston DJs. There will a photo booth, and themed treats, refreshments and gifts. The teens also will have a chance to hang out with special guests, Houston Texans Defensive End Christian Covington, and Miss Texas Logan Lester.

Adding to the experience will be a variety of booths hosted by fine restaurants and businesses serving delectable foods and tantalizing desserts for patients and families to enjoy throughout the evening. Thomas Nguyen, co-owner of Peli Peli Restaurants, works with local popular restaurants and businesses to participate in the annual prom.

“I look forward to this event each year. Bringing the community together to support the kids is important to me,” said Nguyen, co-founder of Prom Party Palooza. “I like to see families relax and have fun.”

Earlier this month, Nguyen hosted a prom dress drive at Peli Peli Houston locations, collecting more than 700 dresses on the first day of the drive. 

The dresses will be on display at MD Anderson at the “dress and suit shop” to kick off prom week. The two-day event hosted by NACE and Men’s Wearhouse will give patients a chance to get fitted for tuxedos and gowns. Patients will be able to choose from hundreds of dresses generously donated by the community, Glory Kids and Something BLUE Bridal Boutique. Houston jeweler Kendra Scott will have a selection of jewelry available for patients to coordinate with their attire.

On the day of prom patients can arrive early to MD Anderson to participate in “prom prep” where Beautique Day Spa and Salon and Nail-tique technicians will help patients look like stars with hair styling, make-up, and nails.

“I’m excited for another year of Prom Party Palooza,” said Jill Vidal, immediate past president of the NACE Houston Chapter and owner of EB Inc., which is providing specialty linens, chairs and other decor items. “We are looking forward to transforming the hospital into a place where kids can dream.”

Other businesses supporting prom include Antone's Famous Po' Boys, Bailey Connor Catering, Brennan’s of Houston, Cake & Eat It Too, Cane Rosso, Craft Burger, Dish Society, DJ Johnny Mac, Flowers in the Heights, Freezing Point, House of the Rising Cookie, Houston Zoo, Ideal Party Decorators, iDesign Meetings, Franny’s Bartending, iHostPoker Casino Parties, J&D Entertainment, J-Mac of 97.9 The Box, Joystix, Local Table, Melange Catering and Events, MYEVENTISTHEBOMB, Oh So Elegant Events, Pharris Photography, Poparazzi's Popcorn, Signature Eventx. Shutterbooth, Snooze, an A.M. Eatery, Solaris Studios, Taste of Texas, The Chocolate Llama and Weddings in Houston Magazine.