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Children's Colorado Prom Offers Patients a Teenage Rite of Passage

Photo courtesy of the Aurora Sentinel.
Photo courtesy of the Aurora Sentinel.

Children’s Hospital Colorado hosted its eighth annual prom for patients recently, treating teens who may have missed their own high school proms to their own annual rite of passage.

“A lot of our patients aren’t able to have a typical teen experience,” said Hadley Trull, a certified child life specialist who helped plan the event. “They can’t go to school on a consistent basis or they can’t have friends around them. This is really to provide them with an opportunity to have that experience and to meet other teens going through what they are going through, that really get it.”

Learn more about child life specialists at Children's Colorado.

A specially made prom

In past years, the prom was held specifically for teen patients with cancer or blood disorder diagnoses. Beginning last year, though, Trull expanded the guest list to include all of the hospital’s 14- to 19-year-old patients who have been diagnosed with life-threatening or life-limiting medical conditions. Roughly 90 patients attended the dance, which Trull said is nearly twice as many teens as last year.

See more photos of the prom at 9News.

Among them was Diana Parra, 18, who was diagnosed at birth with glycogen storage disease, a form of hypoglycemia that requires her to visit the hospital three to four times a year. Between these appointments and the more than 20 surgeries she has undergone, she was missing too much class to easily attend a public school.

“I’ve gone to a normal high school prom, but it’s too much drama,” said Parra, who aspires to be a nurse one day. “I liked this better because each kid has an illness and each of us knows what we’re all going through. Seeing other people happy makes me happy, too.”

Read the Aurora Sentinel's story about Children's Colorado's annual prom.