An Oregon girl who has been battling cancer for three years was treated to the celebration of her life on Friday: a 5th birthday party combined with a prom and wedding – all in a royal fashion.
Hundreds of people showed up to help Lila May Schow, of Hood River, Oregon, celebrate her birthday at the Cinderella-themed bash and to witness a special father-daughter dance.
“There’s been something about her that really inspires people, and she’s inspired an army,” her father, Ryan Schow, told KATU in Portland, Oregon.
Community members donated six cakes, a horse-drawn carriage and DJ services; a carpenter built a throne for Lila; and seamstresses custom-made two gowns. The setting, an old bank building, was transformed into a magic castle by dozens of volunteers.
“We’re touched and honored,” her mom, Heidi Hall, told OregonLive. “This community is a bit of heaven.”
Lila was diagnosed with Stage IV neuroblastoma at age 2. After years of grueling and unsuccessful treatments in four hospitals and three states, doctors told Lila’s parents there was nothing more they could do, OregonLive reports.
“We were always honest about the cancer,” Lila’s mom told the paper. “But after the call we had to have a different kind of talk. I’ve never had to say such hard words.”
Out of treatment options, Lila’s parents shifted their focus to helping Lila enjoy life. Hall began planning the birthday party of a lifetime to help Lila celebrate her 5th birthday on July 31.
“We don’t know how much time we have left,” Lila’s dad Ryan Schow told KATU, “and we have put up one hell of a fight. We just want to give her everything she deserves.”
Hall posted about her ideas for the party on Facebook, writing, “We really want to make this a big party, seeing as how she will never get to go to the prom or have a wedding.”
Then, she asked for the community’s help. The response was overwhelming.
“Lila said she had her own fairy tale ball for her birthday,” her mom posted on Facebook the day after. “Brought tears to my eyes… this momma is happy. My heart is full! THANK YOU for making Lila feel so special in her big day.”
Lila’s dad agreed.
“We wouldn’t have gotten this far,” Schow told KATU, “and been able to fight this hard, without all the help we’ve been given. We’re so very grateful for that.
“It’s all about making a little girl smile,” he added.