Karissa Kiblinger of Joplin had been looking forward to her prom on Saturday, April 21, but a severe respiratory infection landed her in the Pediatrics unit at Cox South last week. She realized she was going to miss the prom, but she had decided to make the best of it and just Skype with her friends as they were getting ready for the dance.
The staff on 700 West had other plans: If Karissa couldn’t go to the prom, why couldn’t they bring the prom to her? They got in touch with Karissa’s friends and her sister, Kylie, to work out the details. They wanted it to be a surprise, so that meant a few days of planning and covering their tracks. They invited Karissa’s date and her friends while hospital staffers worked to convert the pediatrics classroom into an impromptu dance hall.
“She’s stubborn and I’m honest, so it was so hard to keep the secret!” Kylie says.
On Saturday afternoon, nurse Alaina Sparkman and Kylie led Karissa down to the classroom, where she was shocked to find six of her friends.
“This is so crazy!” Karissa says. “These are true friends who came to see me and have a little prom with me; they’re keepers.”
Karissa was joined by her date, sophomore Chase Hall, and five friends who made the trip to Springfield before heading to the prom in Joplin.
“When she walked in, her reaction was priceless,” Kylie says. “She’s had a hard week; I just feel so blessed to see her so happy.”
Pediatric patients and staffers joined the teens as they spent the afternoon dancing and enjoying the prom atmosphere. As evening approached, Dr. John Carlile dropped by with a catered meal for the group.
“When they said they were doing a prom, it was like, ‘Wow, that’s really cool,’” Chase says. “The staff who put this on are really great – this is something that comes from your heart.”
Karissa, who will likely get to go home later this week, says the staff members in Pediatrics were amazing, even before going the extra mile to put together a special event.
“Alaina always checks on me and she’s so awesome – I’ll miss her,” she says. “I appreciate the staff so much, they’re really a big family here. It just brings tears to my eyes that they did all this.”
To see more photos, check out CoxHealth's Facebook page.