As PR professionals, we sometimes get the opportunity to put our skills to good use. And I don't mean landing a front page story for our clients. I mean getting involved in the community, helping to promote causes and plan events that mean something to us, and to so many others. PAN encourages its employees to volunteer for causes that are near and dear to our hearts, whatever they may be. This year, a few of us had such an opportunity when my former professor and chair of A Prom to Remember: Boston asked me to manage PR for the event. If you haven't seen the news, A Prom to Remember was the inaugural Boston prom for teens affected by cancer. I can't possibly describe to you how moving and surreal of an experience this was, but I'll try.
A Prom to Remember is exactly what it claims to be - not your typical prom. These deserving teens get the chance to walk the red carpet, escorted by celebrities at The Ritz-Carlton, Boston Common - a venue that does not host proms for anyone, except A Prom to Remember. The best part is that all of this happens without any costs to the attendees. A Prom to Remember makes it all happen through fundraising, personal and corporate monetary donations, as well as sponsorships and donations of goods and services.
The only goal of this organization is to provide the ultimate prom experience for teens battling cancer. While some attendees have gone to their own proms, or may be able to in future years, there are many teens whose battles against cancer keep them from attending typical high school events like prom. But this prom is truly special. It's about a night off from treatment to have fun with peers who are going through or have gone through similar life-changing experiences. I couldn't wait to get involved.
Tasked with leading the PR for the event, I enlisted the help of several PAN colleagues who all engaged the media, ran social networking channels to help promote fundraising, and worked with the incredibly inspiring Boston prom committee, led by the talented Wendy Nichols. We also got the chance to get to know some of the even more inspiring teens who we did this all for. The results? A handful of broadcast news segments, several news articles and, most importantly - smiles on the face of teens who are battling cancer.
A handful of us from PAN were able to attend the event at The Ritz-Carlton, Boston Common last Friday, June 6. I have never witnessed such an inspiring group of young people. It was a truly humbling experience that makes you forget all the everyday stresses of working in PR or whatever else life throws at us. These teens couldn't hide their excitement, and I couldn't hold back my tears of joy, as they strutted down the red carpet, posed for the paparazzi and danced like it was the best night of their lives.
Since this was the first event in Boston, A Prom to Remember is hoping to grow. There were 50 attendees this year, but the organization is looking to expand to get more local hospitals involved so more deserving teens can experience this ultimate prom. I definitely encourage you to check out photos from the night, available from ASA Photographic and EMB Photography.
The event was a truly surreal experience. There was the one teen girl who asked the Boston Globe reporter to use her press credentials to introduce her to the cute boy dancing nearby (he got her number, by the way). There was the other female teen who wore a beautiful pink dress to prom, because it's her mom's favorite color, and her mom is her rock through treatment. Then there were the two teens who became friends during treatment, but had to separate while in isolation after medical procedures - they got to reunite for the first time at the prom. These are just a few examples of the many moving moments we witnessed at A Prom to Remember.
I'll never forget the look on the prom queen's face as she was crowned, or the excitement in the air as attendees were whisked onto the dance floor by New England Revolutions soccer players, serenaded by James Mussone (from The Voice) and danced the night away to their favorite songs. And best of all, as we ended the night, chanting with each of these teens that we'll "see you next year!"
I love working in PAN's tech portfolio - red carpet events are not my typical scenes. But nothing I accomplish in tech PR can beat the feeling of hearing the inspirational stories of these teens, and then seeing their joy and carefree excitement as they experience the ultimate prom.