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Cancer patients make lifelong memories at Riley prom

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A total of 150 cancer patients were treated to their very own prom to celebrate their fight against the life-threatening illness Friday.

Some patients said the 4th annual Riley Cancer Center Prom served as motivation for them to continue their fight.

“Under the Sea” was the theme, but it had some patients over the moon.

“Whoa, I like it,” said prom-goer Kaitlyn Gornik.

Gornik got all dolled up.

Reporter: “Did it take you a long time to get ready?”
Kaitlyn Gornik: “The hair did, definitely, but this part did not take that long, but the hair definitely.”

The 10 year-old then danced the night away.

The Riley Cancer Center Prom had everything, from a photo booth, to arts and crafts, but it was another attraction that caught Kaitlyn’s eye.

“The dessert room, with a huge chocolate fountain,” said Gornik.  “It is probably as tall as me.”

The cancer patients walked under the arch and into the prom.  Once they walked inside, their only problem was having a good time.  They left their daily, life-saving fight at the door.”

“It feels like it is not even happening, it is just like a special night,” said Gornik.

Each day, Kaitlyn battles Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, but not on this night.

Organizers said this one night has an immeasurable impact.

“You see these children, even when they walk in, they may look like they might be in pain, but they come in and it dissolves,” said Lee Neff of Women for Riley.  “It is a healing thing.”

Marcus Smith was diagnosed with cancer one year ago. He said this one night serves as the motivation to get better.

“It just gives you a break and lets you calm down and then the next day you feel refreshed and ready to go,” said Smith.

Every year an average of 240 children are diagnosed with cancer in Indiana. Eighty-five percent of those kids get their treatment at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health.