SHERMAN OAKS, LOS ANGELES (KABC) — Fred Scarf founded No Worries Now, a non-profit organization that organizes proms for teens with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses who may not live long enough to attend their own proms.
At No Worries Now — based out of Scarf’s parent’s home in Sherman Oaks — no one accepts a salary; everyone is a volunteer. But the group was quickly running out of money and running out of time before their big night. So when Scarf heard about ABC7’s Pay It Forward campaign, he submitted a video.
Scarf always planned on taking his best friend, Shiri, as to prom.
“The way we talked about prom was a way to kind of take us out of the moment and really dream. It meant a lot to me and it really meant a lot to her,” he said.
But Shiri died of cancer before her prom night. Instead of mourning her death, Scarf decided to celebrate her life by founding No Worries Now and holding an annual prom night for hundreds of kids.
“It’s probably the best night of the year for me,” said Scarf.
Kids invited include Lucene Bechirian, who lost her eyesight at 12 years old.
“One day I just woke up and I just couldn’t see. I took an MRI and they told me that I had cancer in my optic nerve,” Bechirian recalled. “From then it was like the first brain surgery, the second, the third, the fourth, the fifth — eye surgery, chemotherapy, radiation — it was almost like my whole world changed.”
Bechirian says thanks to Scarf and his dancing on prom night she felt a normal kid.
“It was so in the moment, like you were living that moment, you weren’t thinking about doctor appointments or treatment or any problems you had. It was just fun. And I don’t think I stopped smiling the whole night,” she said.
Doctors at UCLA believe there is a medical benefit to going to the prom.
“We do know kids and people in general who are happy and hopeful actually do better,” said Dr. Ilanit Brook, a pediatrician at Mattel Children’s Hospital UCLA.
Still, fundraising this year has been especially slow. Scarf took this year off from Cornell University to work on the foundation, but he’s spent almost all his time trying to sell T-shirts to raise money instead of walking the halls of hospitals to invite patients.
Scarf said the $7,000 could be used to pay for about 300 kids to go to prom.
“This is really going to make an immediate difference in a lot of people’s lives,” said Scarf.
“It’s so nice for us to be able to give good news to people and really bring smiles to their faces, it’s a bright spot in their hospital stay,” said Gina Kornfeind, social worker at the UCLA Children’s Comfort Care Program.
Prom night is scheduled for June 29 at Madame Tussauds in Hollywood. Scarf is also in the process of creating what he calls a prom in a box – a kit so kids all over the country can start similar proms.
If you would like to contact No Worries Now or donate to the organization, go to www.noworriesnow.org or call (818) 741-1187.