Teens battling chronic illness got the chance to experience all the glitz and glamour of prom night, thanks to a Florida hospital that was determined to help their patients experience all the normal milestones of growing up.
17-year-old Ruby Troche, who was diagnosed with gastroparesis, was one of the many extended-stay patients at the Arnold Palmer Children’s Hospital in Orlando in attendance.
“I missed most of the major high school events that go on in my high school because I’m here most of the time,” Ruby told InsideEdition.com. “It gave me the chance to socialize with everyone else and [I] feel comfortable knowing that people there had similar medical experiences as me.”
According to event coordinator Amanda Harris, the hospital brought in DJs, set up a dance floor and rented a photo booth for the big day.
“Just because you’re feeling sick doesn’t mean that you don’t get to do the things all your friends get to do,” said Harris, according to the hospital. “It’s just like a prom that you would see at any high school.”
Patients who were in the hospital in the last year were invited to attend, and allowed to bring a date. Parents were invited to a special dinner on the other side of the hospital, where they could be present while giving the teens their privacy.
Ruby explained she was diagnosed with the condition more than a year ago, and would frequently be admitted into the children’s hospital for stays of up to two months at a time.
Like many other patients, she missed most high school events or did not know her classmates well enough to participate in the ones she could attend.
She said it’s always been her dream to go to prom, and even though she’s not sure whether she would make it to her own, Ruby said she’s glad to have participated in the hospital’s celebration.
“I could feel the happiness and joy in the air, everyone was excited to be there,” Ruby said. “Having this happen just made me really happy I got to experience it with all the people I see most of the time in the hospital.”