It isn’t unusual for employees at St. Luke’s to go out of their way to ensure patients receive the highest level of care.
But some St. Luke’s folks in the Magic Valley went beyond typical measures this spring when they helped arrange a special evening for a patient from St. Luke’s Mountain States Tumor Institute in Twin Falls.
In early 2016, Kerry Huffaker was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer and learned she would likely have nine to 20 months left to live.
As she processed the news, she thought of the many things she would miss in the future, including the chance to dance with her son at his wedding one day. That’s when Huffaker’s 17-year-old son, Dylan, decided to give his mom the opportunity to share a dance by asking her to be his prom date for his senior prom at Canyon Ridge High School in Twin Falls.
Dylan’s next step was to recruit a co-conspirator from MSTI, where Kerry was receiving radiation treatment. After hearing Dylan’s idea, Melissa Rowe, a MSTI social worker, shared the family’s story with Melissa Fenderson, director at MSTI Twin Falls. With Fenderson’s support, she jumped into action to make sure the mother and son would have a magical night.
The first surprise came at MSTI, where Kerry was receiving radiation treatment. When Kerry walked out of the treatment area one day, Dylan presented her with a box of donuts and a question: “Will you go to prom with me?”
After Kerry agreed to join Dylan at his prom, Rowe helped arrange several other surprises to help Kerry experience an evening of glamor and fun.
Rowe did some detective work to find Kerry’s favorite nail salon, Lovely Nails and Spa in Twin Falls, and when she shared the Huffakers’ story with the salon’s owner, he agreed to donate a manicure and pedicure for Kerry’s big night out.
She then approached Gregg Middlekauff, owner of Middlekauff Ford Lincoln in Twin Falls, and he agreed to donate a car for the evening. Middlekauff also paid for Kerry’s prom dress and a prom night dinner at Canyon Crest Dining and Event Center.
To capture photos of their night together, Rowe contacted JeniB Photography, and the owner offered to take photos and video at no cost to the family.
When the big night arrived in late April, St. Luke’s Magic Valley CEO Mike Fenello drove mother and son (in the vehicle donated by Middlekauff) to dinner and to the prom. Fenello also surprised Kerry and Dylan by presenting them with a boutonniere and corsage that he had purchased himself.
“It was absolutely amazing to watch this night unfold,” Rowe said. “We are truly blessed to work in such an amazing hospital that not only allows us to go a little outside of the box and create amazing memories for family, but our leadership encourages and takes the time to participate in these very special moments.”
Chereen Langrill is a former communications coordinator for St. Luke’s Health System