South Florida teens unable to attend a normal prom due to serious illnesses were treated to their own prom parade that allowed them to travel the world from the comfort of their cars.
7News cameras captured a golf cart filled with Broward Health patients as they drove by festive displays in Sunrise, Sunday afternoon.
“I don’t know what I’m expecting out here, but I’m told it’s going to be fun, especially the singing. He likes music,” said Linda Olds, patient Joshua Olds’ mother.
The event featured a live in-car variety show with 11 pavilions, each representing different locations and regions from around the globe.
“We brought together different performers, different vendors, to make sure that every aspect of the prom is going to be exactly what they would hope for,” said Broward Health Medical Center CEO Heather Havericak.
Broward Health partnered with the Dunkin’ Joy in Childhood Foundation to bring this special “Around the World” prom to these patients.
“The Joy in Childhood Foundation has been in its inception since 2006,” said Kristena Hart, Operations Director of Dunkin’ Brands. “Since then, we have been fortunate, through the support of the brand, our guests and our incredible franchisees, to donate over $30 million across the country to nonprofits, to children’s hospitals and to food banks.”
The special celebration went a long way in helping the teens forget their struggles, if only for a day.
They’ve put up with remote learning and activities getting cancelled because of the pandemic. Havericak said giving these patients an opportunity to experience something different after a year of isolation is a big deal.
“This has been an incredibly challenging year for everyone, but especially for teens who have chronic illnesses,” said Havericak. “They’re more at risk for developing complications related to to different infections and especially for COVID-19. That’s put even more social isolation on them, and it’s caused them to be away from some of the things that they love most.”
Because these patients are at a higher risk for COVID-19 infection and complications, their families have had to take extra care to prevent exposure over the past year.
“It’s been pretty boring, really. I miss, like, going, like I miss traveling,” said Joshua Olds, who is on the autism spectrum.
“I’m sure he wanted to go out, because the pandemic has done a number on everyone,” said his mother, “but for children living with autism and special needs, it’s very difficult, particularly in the area of social interaction.”
In total, 75 patients from Broward Health and their families attended the event.