Korryn Bachner, 15, and a group of friends were enjoying an evening bonfire in Illinois on April 28 when tragedy struck.
“One of the boys attempted to put some gas on the fire to make it bigger,” Korryn’s mother, Ellen Bachner, tells PEOPLE. “It exploded and got all over the kids and they were on fire.”
Korryn, of Lombard, was one of 12 people injured in the fire. She spent 13 days in a hospital suffering second- and third-degree burns to her face, neck and hands, Ellen, 46, says.
“I didn’t understand the severity of her burns until I saw her in the trauma center,” Ellen tells PEOPLE. “It’s every mom’s worst nightmare. You don’t want to see your kids hurt.”
Weeks earlier, Korryn had agreed to attend prom with her friend Jonathan Ayala, a senior at Glenbard East High School. But after the incident, a school dance was the furthest thing from Korryn’s mind. Still, Ayala was determined to bring Korryn a bit of joy amid her painful recovery.
“He told me in the hospital that he was determined to bring prom to her, even if it was in the hospital,” Ellen recalls of Ayala. “Then when we came home, he asked if he could decorate the basement.”
Korryn, a sophomore, left the hospital and returned home just one day before the school’s prom. Ellen says Korryn was unable to go to the dance because she did not want to risk any infection — and she was not comfortable attending with a fully bandaged face.
So, the teen was none the wiser as Ayala and more than a dozen of her friends planned their own special night. Korryn was expecting to only take pictures with her friends before they headed to the event. Instead, the group strung lights in Korryn’s basement and set up decorations for the teen.
They surprised her with her own prom on Saturday.
“She has such a great group of friends. There were definitely some tears, but they were happy tears,” Ellen recalls of the event. “[Ayala] missed his senior prom for her. She has the opportunity to still attend two more, but I don’t know that another prom will ever be as special as this one was.”
Photos from the evening featured Korryn and her friends posing in their prom gowns and suits. In others, the teens danced in her decorated basement.
“She was just happy. I’m sure there was a smile underneath [her bandages] and a few happy tears,” Ellen tells PEOPLE of her daughter. “It made my heart happy.”
The sweet gesture proved to be a source of encouragement for Korryn, who Ellen says has a long recovery ahead.
“Being home and having to do her dressing changes and nursing her myself, it’s very, very painful for her and it’s very hard for me to hurt her,” Ellen says, noting that most of Korryn’s hands are now unbandaged. “But I know it has to be done in order for her healing. It’s a long process. Burns take a long time to heal.”
A friend set up a GoFundMe page to help cover Korryn’s medical expenses. According to Fox News, no charges have been filed in the fire, as police said they believe the incident was an accident with no malicious intent, though the investigation is ongoing. The boy who caused the fire was also badly injured, Ellen says.