20 years ago I held the very first Renal Teen Prom for young people who have kidney disease. Many teenagers who have kidney disease miss large amounts of school because of prolonged absences due to health. I missed my own prom due to being on dialysis from age 12-24 and I missed many school activities. I don’t want other teens to miss this coming of age event and have the opportunity to meet each other.
This is always a fantastic night for these kids and for RSN. I’m fortunate to have had the opportunity to get know these inspiring young people. It’s very moving to see some of the same kids who come back year after year. Sometimes they miss a year because they are too sick, but they come back the next year full of hope. We can’t forget that there is a cycle with this illness. We have to support people in the up times and the down times, so they can get through this journey of kidney disease and live the life they were meant to life, happy and joyous.
Each year we have a great show with celebrity performers. Jack Black is a frequent prom visitor who has supported the Renal Teen Prom for many years. Last year he surprised the guest by bringing along fellow Jumanji star, Nick Jonas. It was an amazing night and the teens all got to meet jack and Nick and have their photo taken as a special memento.
Notre Dame students volunteer each year to help create an awesome party for their peers. They create and set up the themed decor and then they attend the prom, mingling with the other kids. This is always such a great way to get the party going and ensures that everyone feels accepted and has a great time.
Prom dresses are donated every year by individuals and fashion retailers. We have a dress selection event where girls can come try on dresses and accessories and take home what they choose at no charge. Volunteers are on hand to help the teens pull their perfect prom look together.
Sometimes the biggest obstacle keeping kids from attending is that they have no way to get to the prom. So the night of the prom more volunteers help by providing transportation. They and their parents can relax knowing they will get to the party and back home safely.
The ‘glam’ room is where the girls get ready with the help of volunteer professional stylists. Each year four or five stylists make sure all the girls look fabulous. There are also volunteers to help the guys with their ties and anything else they need to be dance-floor-ready.