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Joy fills the room at prom try-on day

By Lashawnda K. Becoats
Lashawnda K. Becoats
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Lashawnda K. Becoats

Prom. The word conjures images of beautiful dresses and corsages. It’s the night for limousines and special treatment. I recently had a chance to relive that excitement at “try-on” day for the Sandbox’s third Annual “Evening of Believing” prom.

This is no ordinary prom. It’s for children with cancer. My job for “try-on day” was to help prom participants pick their dress, shoes and accessories.

I have to admit I was anxious. What would the children be like? Would they look sickly? Would they be frail? Would they be excited and full of energy? Would they live long enough to attend the prom, which is on Sept. 27?

I feared that my own sadness might make me tearful in front of the children, but once I saw those smiling girls and boys, they were no longer kids fighting for their lives. They were just kids, getting ready for prom!

The site, a church, was set up like a department store. There were areas for dresses, tuxedo fittings, shoes, accessories, alterations and fitting rooms. The Sandbox received donations of approximately 4,000 dresses, as well as shoes and accessories.

I only worked with the girls, which I loved. There were so many dresses to choose from. I was part of a team of three stylists. The first family we worked with had six girls, ages 9 to 20. Five of the girls were adopted from China, and have life altering-illnesses.

Those spunky little girls knew exactly what type of dresses they liked (bright colors) or didn’t like (ruffles). After trying about four or five different styles, the girls found beautiful dresses that fit their petite frames.

The church was filled with laughter and smiles. Kids paraded throughout the rooms squealing, “look at me.”

I felt overwhelmed to be part of something so special. I was so worried about being sad; I didn’t anticipate how much these children and their families would inspire me.

There was the mother who didn’t know if her daughter would feel strong enough to attend after spending two weeks in the hospital. The chemotherapy caused her daughter to lose her hair. So her other two daughters cut their hair short as a show of solidarity.

In the midst of what could be sorrow, everyone gave the children heavy doses of love and support – “You look so pretty,” “That’s a great color on you,” “You look so nice.” The girls’ eyes lit up as they admired themselves in the mirror.

In a life dominated by hospital gowns, doctors’ appointments and medicine, preparing for prom gave the children and their families something to look forward to.

Inside the church, the kids weren’t patients. They were giggly girls wearing pretty dresses and fancy shoes. They were special not because they were sick, but pretty little girls who were going to prom.

Lashawnda K. Becoats is a certified life coach. lbecoats@gmail.com

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