Tuesday, April 24, 2018

UCSF Hospital Prom: An amazing event for all kids who can't attend their own proms

This weekend was crazy with me shooting three different events. As great as they all were, one of those events really stood out. It was the annual UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Prom, which is created for all the kids who have been at the hospital and may not be able to attend their high school prom. It might be due to a compromised immune system, chemotherapy or even some who are attached to breathing machines.

This is the fourth year that I have volunteered to photograph this event, and it inspires me every time!

As always, the volunteers from the hospital did an amazing job converting this room in the hospital into a party location.

They receive donations from many different groups, and make sure to have outfits for the kids, and flowers for everyone.

As the kids entered this wing of the hospital, they signed in and were given their corsage or boutonnière.

The people from Sephora were there to help the kids with their makeup. And yeah, I moved the bag to this spot to give them a plug. :)

Like the last 3 years, many members of the San Francisco 49ers were gracious enough to donate their time to come and escort the kids into the prom.

It is always fun to see the kid's excitement when meeting these NFL athletes.


This kid came into the prom, and Zane Beatles (who has his own charity called Zanes Parade) complimented him on the hair style. I asked them to turn and face each other and took this shot. It cracks me up.

Once inside, the kids had all the food they wanted and a big dance floor.

Look at the smile on this girl's face. That says it all!

It is fun to watch the 49ers dancing with the kids.

They were all dancing to the "Just Dance" game, trying to mimic what they saw on the big screen.

Many of the nurses beg to volunteer at this event. This is Cheryl, who is one of my favorites. At past events, she has always been the crazy one on the dance floor. Last year she was not there and I really missed her. It was great to see her back this year, helping and dancing with the kids.

This is how this prom differs from a typical high school prom. There are kids dancing with the IV poles in tow...

... and dancing in their wheelchairs. Nothing stops these kids from having fun!

But much like any other prom, there are lots of kids who just like to hang out.

You can't have kids and 49ers without having lots of selfies!

 I tried to position myself to capture as many of these photos as I could get.

One of the nurses told me that this girl was a huge 49er fan, but too shy to ask the guys for a photo. So I rounded up as many of the guys as I could find and had them do a group shot with her.

In a different room, they had a quieter area for the kids. In this room they also had a photo booth and body painters.

This young lady was connected to a breathing machine and could not easily be moved. I also asked these athletes if they would take a photo with her. You can barely see what she wrote on the wall, but she said that it was "the best day ever".

They had this graffiti wall for everyone to sign. The kids, the nurses, the 49ers and even I signed it this year. :)

After shooting for a couple of hours, I decided to break out the Canon 8-15mm fish eye lens to have a little fun for myself.

I usually do not roll the lens to 8mm (since it gives this circle effect on full frame cameras), but decided to try it for something different.

This was my favorite moment of the night, when the DJ announced a "special appearance" of the young lady who was connected to power in the quiet room. They were able to move her out onto the main dance floor. All the kids were dancing in front of her and she was loving every second of it. I asked her to turn around for just one second so I could get this photo. She was capturing the moment on her phone as well.

These two young ladies have been to many of the proms and are always on the dance floor. The nurses are always close by in case any of the kids need their help.

It was the end of the prom and the DJ decided to get a selfie of his own. Since I still had the fish eye lens on my Canon 1D X MK II, I walked around him and got this shot. It is another favorite photo from the night.

As each of the prom attendees left, they were given a nice sweatshirt. On that sweatshirt was a note, with my web site and password for them to download free photos. I had 320 images edited and uploaded for them by Sunday afternoon.

The prom ended by 10pm, but as I do every year, I stayed until 10:45pm to get a group shot of all the volunteers. It takes a while to get everyone together since many of the nurses have to get the kids back upstairs and into their rooms before they can return downstairs. But it is well worth the wait. All of these people (and more) give so much of their time for the kids. I know this for a fact, since my daughter spent a lot of time at this hospital due to her Crohn's Disease. My hat is off to all of them!

I got home around midnight and then downloaded all the images. I didn't get to sleep until 1am and was a little tired as I started shooting my next event at 9am. But after seeing what these kids have to deal with on an ongoing basis, I was not going to complain about a little lack of sleep.

And yes, I am already looking forward to photographing this event in 2019.

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Nancy Gyes said...


Thank you for sharing this story and for donating your time and photographs for the kids.
Really great blog.

Nancy Gyes

Unknown said...

Wow what a wonderful event. Certainly stops and makes you think , be thankful for what you have and send great wishes to all the children. There smiles are inspiring , looked like everyone has a fun time. So kind of the 49ers players giving their time to make the kids night that more magical. It is awesome that you give them professional photos to show their families and friends forever, a wonderful act of kindness. It is so great in those events as everyone really has a great time and leaves knowing that giving a little of yourself to others gives yourself such a great feeling. :)


David Wilson said...

Jeff, thank you for sharing your talent with the kids. As the parent of a pediatric cancer survivor I have seen the strength, determination, and joy that you have shown in you images. And, like you, I give back to the community though not through photography.

Evan and Angie said...

That is awesome, Jeff! Amazing event and glad you're there to capture it!