CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Friday night, The Sandbox, a Charlotte non-profit, held its annual "An Evening of Believing" prom. The spectacular event is for children with cancer and life-altering illnesses. It gives these kids a chance to be worry-free, dance like crazy, feel like a star and not worry about their disease.
The guests are called the "Honorees" for the evening. All Honorees are paired with an Ambassador from The Sandbox, another young teen or two, who will be with them throughout the night's magical events.
The evening started at the Aveda Institute where Honorees and their Ambassadors got the full work up; hair and make up for the ladies and grooming for the young men. The young ladies all wore gowns they had chosen about a month ago at Christ Lutheran Church and they all looked stunning. The young men wore tuxedos with The Sandbox's color scheme of teal and purple.
A Color Guard and Catawba County ROTC group kicked off the night by giving the Honorees an official welcome at the end of the red carpet. Then the guests made their way up a 250 foot long red carpet to the NASCAR Hall of Fame passing throngs of "paparazzi" cheering them on and snapping photos. Instagram and Twitter were on fire with photos of the night with the hashtag #CLTBelieves.
The Cleveland County Guardians of the Children provided security for the event. Mecklenburg County sheriff's deputies gave the limos a full "lights and sirens blaring" escort to the hall, it really made the kids feel special.
The Hall of Fame was transformed into a giant ballroom more elegant than words can describe. Audio to Go provided the music and kept the dance floor hopping. The guests and friends danced for almost two hours straight!
This year was a new location for the prom and the NASCAR Hall of Fame went all out. The setting created a more intimate environment for the kids, their parents, and everyone involved. As the pictures show the smiles never ended.
There were still a few tears, though, especially at the Remembrance Ceremony at the end of the evening. That is when, even with the rain falling, we all went outside and remembered nine honorees who are no longer with us. Each name was read and family released a balloon into the night's sky.
The prom is just one portion of work The Sandbox does in our community to alleviate the stress and strain cancer and other devastating illnesses put on families.
The Sandbox is a nonprofit - founded by Mara Campolungo and Brian Dulin, who saw that families' needs were so great they wanted to provide a support system after a devastating diagnosis of cancer for their own child. I am honored to do my small part for An Evening of Believing. If you want to be involved, they are getting close to the holidays and they make HopeFULLHoliday baskets for families.
They are always looking for volunteers, or financial support. I hope you'll consider getting involved.