TAMPA, Fla., June 7, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Wearing crowns and tiaras, newly minted royalty played games, danced and splashed their way through a car line like no other as St. Joseph's Children's Hospital hosted a special Car Pool Prom, in partnership with Dunkin' Joy in Childhood Foundation. The beach-themed event was for teens who were unable to attend their own dance and younger patients who due to chronic or life-threatening conditions, may never get the opportunity.
The Child Life team at St. Joseph's Children's Hospital organizes special events, like prom, in an effort to provide patients with experiences that they might not otherwise have due to treatment and hospitalization. The past year has been especially difficult for children living with serious illnesses.
"Many of these patients are at higher risk for COVID-19 infection and complications, so their families have had to take extra care to prevent exposure during the past year," said St. Joseph's Children's Hospital Operations Director Jimmy Baumgartner. "Giving these children an opportunity to experience this version of a prom was a great way to provide fun, joy and friendship, all in a safe environment."
The family friendly drive-thru experience featured tropical décor, activity stations, a splash zone, a dance station, family prom swag bag, and lots of fun. Waves, smiles and cheers of "this is awesome" filled the air.
Lucia Ferlita, age 8, is a patient in St. Joseph's Children's Hospital's Chronic-Complex Clinic and was excited to attend the event with her family. She is the only person living in the United States with a diagnosis of EMARDD, or early onset myopathy with areflexia, respiratory distress and dysphagia. Very little is known about this serious disease that has left her with low muscle tone and the need for a feeding tube to eat and a ventilator to breathe.
"Lucia chose to dress as her favorite Disney character, Moana, and even helped us pick out the decorations for our car," said Lucy's mother, Lisa Ferlita. "She had so much fun waving to familiar faces from the hospital as well as new, friendly faces. We were all treated like royalty and even Lucia's little brother, Anthony, had a great time."
To see highlights from St. Joseph's Children's Hospital's drive-thru prom, visit: Facebook.com/StJosephsChildrens.
About St. Joseph's Children's Hospital
As Tampa's only dedicated children's hospital, St. Joseph's Children's Hospital is committed to providing everything needed for the health and well-being of children. Part of the BayCare Health System, St. Joseph's Children's Hospital provides more acute medical and surgical pediatric care than all other hospitals in Hillsborough County. From the tiniest baby to the high school quarterback, patients are cared for by doctors who specialize in treating children, in surroundings designed exclusively for kids.
BayCare is a leading not-for-profit health care system that connects individuals and families to a wide range of services at 15 hospitals and hundreds of other convenient locations throughout the Tampa Bay and west central Florida regions. Inpatient and outpatient services include acute care, primary care, imaging, laboratory, behavioral health, home care, and wellness. Our mission is to improve the health of all we serve through community-owned health care services that set the standard for high-quality, compassionate care. For more information, visit www.BayCare.org.
About the Dunkin' Joy in Childhood Foundation
The Dunkin' Joy in Childhood Foundation, the charitable foundation supported by Dunkin' and the generosity of its franchisees, guests, vendor partners and employees, provides the simple joys of childhood to kids battling hunger or illness. The Foundation partners with food banks, children's hospitals and nonprofit organizations to fund joyful environments and joyful experiences for kids when they need it most. Since 2006, the Joy in Childhood Foundation has granted more than $30 million to hundreds of national and local charities across the country. For more information, please visit www.bringjoy.org.
SOURCE St. Joseph's Children's Hospital