Hilton donates venue for alternative prom

Posted March 25, 2011 11:51 p.m. EDT

— The North Raleigh Hilton has agreed to provide a ballroom so that teens too ill or disabled to attend a high school prom may experience their own big night out.

The "Dance Like No One is Watching Gala" is the brainchild of Naomi Sjostedt-Smith, 28, of Durham. In high school, Sjostedt-Smith was diagnosed with Cushing's disease, which causes fluid to build up in her brain and lungs. The disease kept her from going to her own prom. 

"I remember how hard it was as a teen to not be able to do the same things that my friends were doing," she said.  

She wants to give others the chance she never had. She is collecting donations for the May 27 event. The venue was a step in the right direction, but caterers, evening gowns, tuxedos and other help is still needed. 

"We are working on a budget of zero," Sjostedt-Smith said. "We’re working on a budget of compassion."

To find out how to help with the prom, go to the group's website.