Hundreds of teens and young adults living with kidney disease donned evening gowns and ties, and let loose with one of Hollywood’s top stars on Sunday at the annual Renal Teen Prom, meant to give them a chance – sometimes their first – to experience the right of passage.
Now in its 14th year, the Renal Teen Prom was created by Renal Support Network founder Lori Hartwell, who missed her own prom because of kidney disease.
"I spent all my teenage years on dialysis and I didn’t want other teens to miss this coming-of-age event," Hartwell said.
She and others helped create what has become a special night for teens and young adults who didn't get a chance to go to their proms, whether they were undergoing dialysis or were in the hospital at the time. Or simply didn't feel up to it.
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"I’m here to support and tell them what I’ve been through and to know what they’re going through so we could help each other other," said Heather Gutierrez, attendee.
Evening gowns and ties were donated for the event, which draws revelers age 14 to 24 from across the state and country. This year’s theme is "Midnight in Paris."
"It will feature a magical night of dinner and dancing, entertainment, glamorous photos and appearances by Hollywood celebrities," event organizers said in a press release.
Attendees will have a chance to rub shoulders with actor/comedian Jack Black, a Renal Teen Prom regular, and KABC news anchor Phillip Palmer.
And the special guests aren’t the only Hollywood element of the night. Decorations for the prom were created by “General Hospital” set designer Dan Proett and Tony Ward from PRG, which provides lighting for major awards ceremonies, including the Grammys.
Of the nearly 17,400 Californians waiting for a kidney transplant, about 1,817 are between the ages of 11 and 34, according to the Health Resources and Services Administration. Some 95,000 Americans are on the waiting list for a kidney transplant.
The private prom partied from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Sunday at Notre Dame High School in Sherman Oaks. For details on how to contribute to the Renal Teen Prom, click here.