Oakland hospital hosts prom dance for amazing kids

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Some teenagers suffering from serious illnesses or injuries got a second chance at what's considered a young person's right of passage - prom.

But Saturday night's event was no ordinary prom. It was for survivors.

Close to 100 patients, who were either hospitalized or just too weak to attend their school's prom, got a second chance.

"I'm grateful to have another chance at living," said of one of the students.

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The teenagers at Kaiser Permanente Oakland's Pediatric Prom may have missed out on their own prom or first dance because of their illness or injury, so this is a 'do over' of sorts. It includes complimentary hair, make-up and formal wear.

It gives these kids a chance to remember how life used to be.

"It's good for them to enjoy and be young again, just be themselves, a lot of time they have to grow up, older than they are, to have all these treatments," said Jessica Claspill-Garcia, a child-life specialist at Kaiser Oakland.

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Esmerelda Gonzalez is a year into her fight with leukemia. Shhe has bittersweet tears as she got dressed for tonight's event.
"It's incredible how life works, you battle through it, you try your hardest and then you just overcome it" she said.

She asked her cousin Fredy to be her date for this special night.

"I'm not a big dancer, but if she wants to do it I'll do it. And just support her and be here with her, and try to make her happy," said Fredy Gonzalez, Esmerelda's date.

Saturday's big dance was all about finding joy in this place, with this group, and even under these circumstances.

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