Teens Enjoy Prom Night at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital

More than 100 teenagers filled UCSF’s Moffitt Café on April 20 for the second annual UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital prom – the only hospital prom for teens in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Teens arrived on a red carpet leading into the hospital, where the cafeteria was transformed into a club-like dance party, complete with photo booth, DJ, dance floor, fresh flowers, and food and drinks.

Teens at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital

Patient Erin Miller and her boyfriend Michael DeMasters, both 15, were outfitted for a prom held at the Benioff Children's Hospital with $50,000 in clothing and stylists donated by Banana Republic.

Many of the teens had missed their own high school proms because they were hospitalized, and treasured the opportunity to feel like a teenager and not a patient, even if for only a night.

"Even with IV poles and wheelchairs, this is the exact same kind of prom that every teen experiences as he or she goes through life," said Michael Towne, Child Life Services Manager. "It's a right of passage."

It was the second UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital teen prom for Rachel Hale, 17. Last year Hale was hospitalized during prom while being treated for a combination of gastrointestinal and orthostatic conditions. While she has returned home to Walnut Creek, she still wouldn't miss the annual hospital event.

Sayareh Farsio, director of Special Services, Banana Republic Flagship, left, meets with patient Amy Martinez to outfit her for the teen prom at UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital.

"I look forward to this all year," said Hale. "We don't get to dress up very often, and to have something fun to go to like a party. Not a lot of these kids get that chance."

And in true prom tradition, no parents are allowed. If patients do require a caregiver, they are encouraged to bring a trusted adult other than a parent.

Prom attendees danced until 10 p.m. while dressed to the nines thanks to Banana Republic, which donated $50,000 worth of clothes.  Through a collaboration with Banana Republic Merchants, 150 outfits including suits, dresses and accessories were donated for the teens. Sayareh Farsio with Special Services from Banana Republic Flagship store and her team Nanci Milton Fitterman and Toni Encarnacion helped fitting the kids for their special night.

The prom is a continuation of a teen-focused, multi-year project at the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital. The Child Life Department recognizes the integral role hospital child life programs play in the healing process and works with children, teens and their families to ensure that each child's developmental and emotional needs are met during their hospital stays.

The major supporters for this event are Banana Republic and Salesforce.com Foundation.