No Worries Now is a nonprofit dedicated to improving the well being of teens with life-threatening illnesses now. One of their initiatives, known as the Pair Program, pairs teen patients with teen volunteers and sends each pair on monthly outings so that patients have the opportunity to feel like normal teens. This video highlights the amazing friendship of two teens named Evelyn and Lily who met through the program and developed an irreplaceable bond that has changed both of their lives.
By Amy Powell
Thursday, June 12, 2014
HOLLYWOOD, Calif. (KABC) —
Hundreds of teenagers coping with a life-threatening illness or disability celebrated their prom in Hollywood Thursday night. The event was organized by No Worries Now, a non-profit organization founded by Fred Scarf.
“I’ve missed a lot of opportunities throughout my high school years, so to be able to be here and the people who put this together I’m thankful for that,” cancer survivor Genasis Crafton said.
Asha Kenlow had a stroke at the age of 5, there was a time in her life when she couldn’t walk or talk. On Thursday night, she was ready to dance.
“This is an excellent place because sometimes kids who have gone through real struggles with different disorders and diseases, they can come here and feel safe and feel comfortable,” Asha’s mother, Wanda Kenlow said.
The rooftop party at Madame Tussauds in Hollywood included dinner, entertainment and an impromptu talent show. It was put together by volunteers.
The kids say that what makes this prom special is spending time with others who share similar struggles.
“They understand what it’s like,” one attendee said.
“It’s a lot of fun. It gives us a chance to sort of get away from our worries, I guess, and just enjoy the night,” cancer survivor Matt Foster said.
Having cancer changes everything, but for one teen, her diagnosis led to an incredible friendship that has had a very positive impact on her life.
Thanks to the nonprofit organization No Worries Now, 19-year-old Evelyn was able to regain a sense of normalcy after being treated for Ewing’s sarcoma, a type of bone and tissue cancer, at the age of 16. Through Pair Program, an initiative that brings teen patients together with teen volunteers to have fun, Evelyn was introduced to Lily and a very special relationship was formed.
“It’s really just been a straight friendship,” says Lily. “We bonded over a lot of things both going through our freshman year of college and we had a lot of time talking about those types of experiences.” Watch in the video above.
“My friendship with Lily has made my life better because I’m able to go to her when I’m feeling down. She reassures me and brightens up my day when I feel self-conscious about myself,” explains Evelyn.
“I think Evelyn and I will be friends for quite awhile,” says Lily.
It definitely looks like it.
Tasha Salas is a survivor of Neuroblastoma, and attended more than five No Worries Now events before officially joining the team–though she had volunteered at the dress giveaway event for years. The No Worries Now prom is incredibly special to her because her husband actually proposed to her at a No Worries Now prom. Tasha has degree in Human Services and Child Development, and she is a certified nurse’s assistant and medical assistant.
Lauryn Weaver heard about No Worries Now from Brooke’s Blossoms & Buddies and instantly connected to the mission. This program struck a chord with Lauryn personally as her mother was diagnosed with cancer when she was only 18. After Lauryn’s mother lost her battle with cancer, she has made the fight against cancer, the cancer journey and the families affected, her focus. Lauryn works for American Cancer Society and also volunteers at Texas Scottish Rite Children’s Hospital. In her free time she loves to travel, read, and spend time with her family.
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The No Worries Now Prom brings sick teens together
Fred with his friend Sheri
When Fred Scarf was 15 years old, he lost one of his closest friends, Sheri, to cancer. “I felt like I died inside,” he said, “and I knew I had to do something big. I was driven.” With their plans of going to their high school prom together tragically derailed, he was inspired to throw a prom for teens with cancer. What started out in 2006 as 20 patients having the time of their lives for one special night has now grown to hosting annual proms in five cities. The resulting nonprofit is called No Worries Now, reflecting its mission to immediately improving the lives of teens with life-threatening illnesses. To date, over 3,000 teenagers have attended proms thrown by No Worries Now.
Marta Belcher, the executive director of No Worries Now, emphasizes that “For teens who have been in and out of the hospital the opportunity to let go and dance and celebrate life is a really meaningful experience.”
Cecy with her mom and boyfriend at Prom
One of those teens is Cecilia “Cecy” Saravia. She was 14 when a regular checkup with her pediatrician for a pain she was experiencing in her spleen resulted in the life-changing news that she had leukemia. “I thought it was a twisted joke,” she remembers thinking. “I was a happy, boy-crazy, regular teenager and thought I was invincible. ”
She was pulled out of school and spent the next nine months enduringchemotherapy treatments and unbearable spinal taps. Her single mother, Estella, recalls the evening when Cecy came to her and told her she did not want to live anymore — the pain and emotional distress was killing her spirit. “I was told I would hear that one day, but never thought it would come from my daughter.” Estella implored her to fight, and promised that if she did, they would beat the disease together and Cecy could graduate from high school and pursue her dreams.
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StudiosIt was during this difficult time that Estella learned about No Worries Now through the children’s hospital they were frequently going to for treatment. Cecy remembers thinking, “What if I never get to experience the teenage dream of prom like everyone else?” The opportunity gave her something to look forward to and energized her for the first time in months. The program kicked off with a free dress giveaway, where hundreds of designer dresses are donated to the patients to get ready for the glamorous night. “It was the first time she was going out with friends that were going through the same thing as her,” Estella remembers. “And the first time I saw her happy again.” Cecy had the time of her life.
Limbo contest at the Prom
Now 18 years old, Cecy has been in remission for just over a year, and has attended three unforgettable proms. This year promises to be no different. What drives her to attend year after year is that she is able to share her story, be an inspiration to others, and prove that they can beat cancer and graduate from high school, just as she did recently in June.
Although the threat of relapse is ever-present for Cecy, during the night of the prom she had no worries: “I feel like a survivor!”
To make a donation to this organization, please visit No Worries Now!
Produced by Gabriel Noble. Edited by Amina Megalli. Cinematography by Mario Framingheddu. Additional camera by John Matysiak. Audio by Adam Young . Associate Producer: Anne Koester. Production Intern: Rebecca Michelson. Production Supervisor: Michael Manas, Sound Mixer: J.J. Brown. Graphics Editor: Todd Tanner. Executive Producers: Russ Torres and Charity Elder for Yahoo! Studios.