Teen cancer patients and their families get ‘red carpet’ ready for a special prom

MD Anderson and local businesses set the stage for first “Prom Party Palooza”

The University of Texas MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital, in collaboration with local restaurants and businesses, will host a special prom for its pediatric cancer patients on Saturday, April 30 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The Great Gatsby-themed prom takes place at MD Anderson Cancer Center, and is expected to welcome more than 100 teen patients and their families. The “Prom Party Palooza” includes three separate parties for patients, siblings and parents, making it a unique gathering.

For patients and siblings 13 years and under, there will be a “Super Powers” party with a visit from Houston Astros mascot, Orbit. Parents and caregivers will enjoy their space with a party featuring a live performance by Molly and the Ringwalds Band. The main event for teens 13 and older will take place on MD Anderson’s glass-enclosed observation deck overlooking the Houston skyline. Anchors Lily Jang, from KHOU, Channel 11, and Andy Cerota from KPRC, Channel 2, will co-emcee the event. Houstonia Magazine is the media sponsor.

“The prom and the parties that celebrate their families really exemplify patient- and family-centered care at MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital,” said Quinn Franklin, manager of Child Life Services. “Many of our patients are unable to attend these types of events while going through treatment, so it is very meaningful that the community has stepped in to bring this special event to the hospital.”

Co-sponsoring the event are Thomas Nguyen, Michael Tran and Chef Paul Friedman, co-owners of Peli-Peli Restaurant, and local commercial seafood distributor, Marine Foods Express. The title sponsors teamed up with MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital to plan the prom in hopes of making it an annual event. Nguyen reached out to local businesses and restaurants to generate support and donations.

“We’ve always wanted to do something memorable for kids being treated for cancer,” said Nguyen. “It is our hope that the prom brings a day of normalcy and joy to the lives of MD Anderson pediatric patients and their families.”

In March, Nguyen hosted a kick-off reception at Peli-Peli restaurant that brought in 100 volunteers for the event and more than 200 prom dress donations. The volunteers will help with dress and tuxedo selections and fittings at MD Anderson the week of prom; and patients will be able to choose from a variety of dresses as well as donated tuxedos by Al’s Formal Wear.

In addition to the various restaurants sponsoring food and drinks for the event, other vendors will donate entertainment, photography and videos, and goody bag stuffers complete with popular prom party favors. Hair, makeup and nail stations from Pageboy Mobile Styling will be available for girls. Kendra Scott will host a color-bar the day of the event so teens and their families can design custom jewelry to wear to the prom.

“For our patients and families, playtime is an important component in helping them cope with cancer treatment,” said Franklin. “The event is an evening of glitz and glamour open to all patients and families treated at MD Anderson Children's Cancer Hospital.”

Other businesses supporting the “Prom Party Palooza” include Craft Burger Food Truck, Fluff Bake Bar, Holley’s Seafood Restaurant and Oyster Bar, Kuu Restaurant, Roostar Vietnamese Grill, The Tasting Room, Taste of Texas Restaurant, DJ Johnny “JKB” Nguyen, DJ John “Johnny Mac” McLaughlin, Yogi G Productions, PXLS Studio, Zone 6 Video and BoothRus.