Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

A prom queen holds court

George Karavokiros dances with sister, Stacey, in her custom-designed prom dress, with nurse in tow at All Children’s Hospital on Saturday evening.

WILLIE J. ALLEN JR. | Times

George Karavokiros dances with sister, Stacey, in her custom-designed prom dress, with nurse in tow at All Children’s Hospital on Saturday evening.

ST. PETERSBURG — Under the harsh hospital lights in Room No. 9, a make-up artist wearing a paper mask brushed mascara onto Stacey Karavokiros' long lashes. A stylist curled her dark hair into loose ringlets. Her mom clipped a rhinestone bracelet around her left wrist.

"Okay," her mom, Irene, said just before 7 p.m. Saturday. "It's time for the dress." She helped Stacey out of her green hospital gown, into the flowing red dress that had been made especially for her. Then she eased her daughter into a wheelchair, untangled four lines from the IV pole, and opened the door.

Her younger sister sobbed. Her little brother took pictures. "Oh my gosh!" "Beautiful!" "Just look at her!" cried a dozen doctors and nurses as her mom rolled her down the hall.

Stacey, 17, was supposed to go to her prom Saturday night. But the Tarpon Springs High senior was too sick to leave All Children's Hospital. Two weeks ago, her body started rejecting her heart — the second one she's had transplanted. Her kidneys and lungs are suffering from all the medicines. Doctors don't know when she'll be able to leave.

So Saturday night, a party bus pulled up in front of the hospital and 22 teenagers spilled out. Dressed in dark suits and evening gowns, with roses pinned to their chests, they filed into a conference room where a woman with a badge was waiting with hand sanitizer. "Welcome! Thank you for coming!" she called. "Please, everybody, wash your hands."

Since Stacey couldn't go to the prom, the prom came to her. Hospital workers hung two disco balls in the conference room; a DJ volunteered to come spin tunes; a caterer donated chicken fingers and pasta salad, a fruit tray and enormous cake.

Her classmates canceled their dinner reservations at Harborview Center in Clearwater so they could share at least part of their evening with Stacey.

Her date, who decided he didn't want to go to the prom alone, came to the hospital too. "Prom is about being with your friends," said Kaliope Hatzileris, 18. "So of course we all wanted to be here with her."

Stacey had to wear a mask. Monitors blinked and buzzed behind her head. But once she was in the conference room, she stood up slowly and shoved aside her wheelchair.

"I just can't believe they all came out here for me," Stacey said, her eyes welling. "I just don't want to see them all go."

Then the DJ put on a Greek song, and everyone locked arms in a circle, and Stacey's mom dragged the IV pole behind her. And, for a few minutes at least, Stacey got to dance at her prom.

A prom queen holds court 05/10/08 [Last modified: Friday, May 16, 2008 5:17pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Maria: Clearwater Coast Guard plane aids rescue near Puerto Rico

    Military

    Eight minutes. That's how long it took the Petty Officer 3rd Class Darryn Manley of the Coast Guard said it took him to spot the boat that capsized off a Puerto Rican island on Thursday.

  2. Mom of girl who died looking for candy seeks to keep husband away

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — Eight days after her 4-year-old daughter died in the care of paternal grandparents, pregnant Lizette Hernandez sat in a Hillsborough County courthouse Friday, attempting to seek full-time custody of her 19-month-old son.

    Lizette Hernandez, 22, completes paperwork Friday for a motion for protection from domestic violence against her husband, Shane Zoller. Their daughter, Yanelly, 4, died in a reported gun accident at the home of Zoller's parents Sept. 14. She alleges that her husband hit her and caused her to fall on a grave marker at their daughter's funeral Thursday in a tussle over their remaining 1-year-old son. [JONATHAN CAPRIEL  |  Times]
  3. New owners take over downtown St. Petersburg's Hofbräuhaus

    Retail

    ST. PETERSBURG — The downtown German beer-hall Hofbräuhaus St. Petersburg has been bought by a partnership led by former Checkers Drive-In Restaurants president Keith Sirois.

    The Hofbrauhaus, St. Petersburg, located in the former historic Tramor Cafeteria, St. Petersburg, is under new ownership.
[SCOTT KEELER  |  TIMES]

  4. Ed Sheeran coming to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa

    Blogs

    Let it never be said Ed Sheeran hasn't given the people of Tampa what they want.

  5. Editorial: Once more, homeowners are let down by state housing agency

    Editorials

    Once upon a time, the federal government created a program called the Hardest Hit Fund. Its goal was admirable, and its mission important. The fund was designed to aid Americans in danger of losing their houses after the Great Recession had wreaked havoc on the economy. Unfortunately, the folks in Washington erred in …

    The Hardest Hit Fund was designed to aid Americans in danger of losing their houses after the Great Recession. Unfortunately, the folks in Washington trusted Florida to get that money into the hands of people who needed it most.