Prom Night at NewYork-Presbyterian: A Beloved Tradition

Teenage patients have a chance to plan their own prom, with the help of employees and volunteers, at NewYork-Presbyterian’s two children’s hospitals.

Every year, workers roll out the red carpet, and dozens of employees and volunteers, including a seamstress, a tailor, and professional hairstylists and makeup artists, donate their time to treat current and former patients to hours of primping, pampering, and an evening they will never forget.

But how did the annual proms at NewYork-Presbyterian’s two children’s hospitals begin?

“The idea actually came from a patient,” explains Rechelle Porter, director of Child Life Services and Creative Arts at NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital. “She was going to miss her prom, and she was talking to other patients, and she said, ‘It would be really cool if we had a prom here.’”

“That made us think,” Porter continues, “‘There are a lot of kids that spend a lot time here, and there are special moments that they can’t be involved in just because of their illness. Why not have a prom here?’”

 

In June, nearly 100 current and former patients and their guests ages 12 to 19 attended the ninth annual prom at NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, and nearly 80 teens attended the prom at NewYork-Presbyterian Komansky Children’s Hospital.

Today, teenage patients at both hospitals help plan the proms.

“They select so much that goes into the planning of prom: the theme, invitation design, menu, giveaways, T-shirt design for volunteers, and the colors for linens,” notes Sharon Granville, the director of Child Life Services at NewYork-Presbyterian Komansky Children’s Hospital.

“It’s cool to see it all come together,” says Christine Kim, 17, who helped plan this year’s “Chocolate Wonderland” prom at Komansky, featuring an elaborate candy bar, cupcakes, and gumdrop decorations.


“Just because you’re sick doesn’t mean you can’t have fun.”

— Cassandra “Cassie” Powell, 15


Longtime patients like Joey Manaker, 15, look forward to prom every year. This year, Joey asked his favorite nurse, Anne Douglas, to be his prom date.

“He loves hanging and dancing with Nurse Anne,” says Joey’s mom, Anne Manaker. Joey considers Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital “his hospital” after undergoing treatment there since birth, she adds.

After battling a rare form of cancer last year, Cassandra “Cassie” Powell attended the Morgan Stanley prom, and this year, with her cancer in remission, she helped plan the graffiti-themed event.

“Just because you’re sick doesn’t mean you can’t have fun,” Cassie says. She picked out a white satin gown with sequins from a rack of donated dresses and spent hours getting her hair and makeup done before dancing with her prom date, her little sister Katya, and friends.