Teen cancer patients prepare for an exciting night at annual Prom Party Palooza

Community businesses create a circus-themed event to bring joy and inspiration to patients

HOUSTON – The University of Texas MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital joins Peli Peli Restaurants, the National Association for Catering and Events (NACE), Sunshine Kids Foundation and a host of other local businesses for the fourth annual Prom Party Palooza, 6-9 p.m. Saturday, April 27, celebrating teen cancer patients and their families.

This year’s circus-inspired theme is based on “The Greatest Showman,” an American musical film that celebrates being unique and proud of one’s differences. The event will include live entertainment, food and fun for the entire family.

“The annual prom gives our patients a chance to forget about their cancer treatment, while enjoying a night of glamour and fun,” said Tomika Gamble, program manager of pediatric camps and special events at MD Anderson. “We wouldn’t be able to offer this event or other patient programs without our generous donors.”

Prom week kicks off April 22 with pre-prom activities at the Dress and Suit Shop with special guests, fashionable selections and more. The two-day event, hosted by NACE and Sunshine Kids, gives patients a chance to select prom attire and get fitted for dresses and suits. MD Anderson’s activity and teen room is transformed into elegant dressing rooms with volunteers helping patients select prom attire.

“We are excited to transform parts of the hospital for the annual prom. Each year is an opportunity to bring a different theme to life,” said Jill Vidal of NACE Houston Chapter and owner of EB Inc. “Watching the teens select prom attire and seeing the joy on their faces as they walk into prom is so rewarding.”

Patients and families will enjoy themed treats, music, multiple photo booths, special gifts and circus-themed entertainment including a floating ringmaster, contortionists, body balancers, stilt walkers, and jugglers. Guests will dine on delectable food from a host of local restaurants and businesses coordinated by Thomas Nguyen, co-owner of Peli Peli Restaurants.

“This special event continues to grow each year. We love working with MD Anderson and hearing feedback from the patients and families,” said Nguyen, co-founder of Prom Party Palooza and an MD Anderson Advance Team member.

In keeping with Prom Party Palooza’s tradition, the magical night will include three separate parties. Sunshine Kids will host a party for the younger patients and siblings with a variety of activities, including music and dance, face painting, arcade and board games, and arts and crafts. Parents and caregivers will make their own memories with a themed party in The Park at MD Anderson.

“We are excited to co-sponsor this special event for patients and their families,” said Jennifer Wisler, director of Sunshine Kids. “This is just another way for us to support young patients being treated at MD Anderson.”

The main party, for teen patients and guests 13 and older, will take place on the top floor of
MD Anderson’s Alkek Hospital. The red-carpeted exclusive event will include its own DJ, a mocktail and dessert bar, photo booth fun and “The Greatest Showman”- themed treats. Prom goers will dance the night away inside the glass-enclosed veranda overlooking the Houston skyline.


Dress and Suit Shop
April 22 and 23
4:30-7 p.m.

  • Patients can select from a variety of new dresses donated by Muzzie’s, Dillard’s and MD Anderson employees.
  • AND Suits will deliver specially ordered monogramed dress shirts for patients to wear with their suits.
  • Patients can select shoes donated by SJP by Sarah Jessica Parker, who hosted a sale in Houston earlier this month and raised more than $300,000 for prostate cancer research at MD Anderson.
  • Kendra Scott will be onsite to help patients pick out the perfect piece of jewelry to wear.
  • Houston Dynamo players will join representatives from Men’s Wearhouse to help patients select suits to wear to prom. Players Chris Duvall, Boniek Garcia, Kevin Garcia, Memo Rodriguez, Tommy McNamara and Michael Nelson, along with former player Brian Ching, will be at the hospital Monday, April 22, 4:30-6 p.m.

Prom Party Palooza’s “Prom Prep”
April 27
3-5:30 p.m.

  • Hair stylists, makeup artists and nail technicians from Beautique Day Spa and Salon will help get patients ready for prom.
  • “America’s Got Talent” Season 11 and teen ovarian cancer survivor Calysta “Caly” Bevier will visit with patients, 3-4 p.m., before her performance at the Houston Dynamo Game in celebration of End Cancer Night.

Other businesses supporting prom include Antone's Famous Po' Boys, Bailey Connor Catering, Braeburn Country Club, Cane Rosso, Cheesecake Factory, Cort Furniture, Craft Burger, Freezing Point, GTX Productions, Houston Zoo, Ideal Party Decorators, J&D Entertainment, Joystix, Melange Catering and Events, Michelle’s Henna & Skin Artistry, MYEVENTISTHEBOMB, Signature Eventz, Snooze, an A.M. Eatery, Steve Lee Photography, Taste of Texas, The Bridal Rail, The Chocolate Llama and True Food Kitchen.