NEW ORLEANS - It was an unforgettable day for a brave group of youngsters and their families Friday.
Nearly 150 children and teens diagnosed with cancer were treated to a rare chance to just forget about their illness and be a kid.
Children’s Hospital hosted a third annual prom for its patients at Mardi Gras World.
The white stretch limos, the red carpet and the glitzy fanfare were all signs of triumph for one cheering family.
“I just kept thinking it's almost like a resurrection for us,” said Patsy Reitmeyer, whose 13-year-old granddaughter, Kelsey Reitmeyer, is in remission from leukemia.
“It's symbolic of, you know, just recovery and overcoming everything she's gone through in the last year and a half,” said Kelsey’s mother, Catherine Reitmeyer.
Kelsey was too sick to attend last year's event. Now in remission, she underwent chemotherapy just hours before this year’s gala.
“It's almost like a second chance because I can finally come and be with my friend,” she said.
Children’s Hospital said many of those in attendance may not be able to attend their own prom.
“I get to see other kids, instead of seeing them in the hospital, I get to see them outside to see how good they actually feel,” said Kiara Alexander, 16. “I like to see what it’s like for them to smile instead of being in pain and stuff because I don’t like to see people in pain. I know what it’s like.”
Alexander suffers from sickle cell disease.
“It's hard, but it's something I have to live with until God calls me home,” she said.
For every child here, a story of bravery and a positive spirit as they mingle with football stars, enjoy a room filled with candy, and dance the night away.
“It's just really important because then I get to catch up on the stuff I missed,” said Kelsey Reitmeyer.
For the first time this year, a local business sponsored the event.
In year’s past, the event was sponsored by the San Diego-based Friends of Scott Foundation.
Children’s Hospital’s Prom of Champions provides events throughout the year for patients battling cancer and blood disorders.
To learn more, log onto www.promofchampions.org.