HOOD RIVER, Ore. (KOIN) — This was Lila May’s day.
After the story of the “spunky” girl battling Stage 4 neuroblastoma became known, people from all over the country offered their help to Lila May’s family to put on a Birthday Ball for the now-5-year-old.
Her mother, Heidi Hall, told KOIN 6 News this birthday may be Lila May’s last. She wanted to do something special — part birthday, part prom, part Cinderella ball, part wedding day — “everything she won’t get,” Heidi said.
Within 2 days of the first story from KOIN 6 News, they had everything — and more — that they needed to make this party truly special.
An overwhelming response
An expected crowd of about 1,000 people came to the party at the Butler Bank Building at 301 Oak Street. Since the building only holds about 180, an overflow area outside was set up, complete with large screens showing a dedicated live stream.
Plenty of activities for the kids, including face painting and crown making, were set up outside in a carnival-like atmosphere.
People from California, Idaho and Utah who heard about and were touched by Lila May’s story drove in for the party, Heidi said.
Lila May, her girlfriends and Heidi got their hair and makeup done by stylists from Portland who donated their skills.
Two stores in Hood River sold ball gowns for $10 in an effort to help outfit those who wanted to attend the party.
The street around the building was blocked off. A drawbridge was built outside, and Lila May arrived in a horse-drawn carriage escorted by police through the streets of Hood River.
She wore a custom-made Cinderella dress — made and donated by a woman out-of-state who heard about Lila May.
The crowd cheered for their princess, who smiled and waved.
She spotted her Prince Charming — “Daddy, Daddy!” — as he and her stepdad walked her to the reception line inside her “castle” followed by Disney princesses.
“I think every little girl needs as much princess magic as they can get,” Cinderella said. “Sadly, since she doesn’t have a whole lot of time left, I thought it was really important to get as much magic as she could.”
Hundreds of people cheered as she walked the red carpet.
With camera lights flashing, Lila May’s dad twirled her on the red carpet in a dance that brought people to tears.
Then her stepdad danced with her. At the end of his dance, he dropped to one knee, pulled out a ring and said, “Lila May, will you marry me?”
“Yes!” she said.
Then the crowd sang “Happy Birthday” and she was enjoying the moment.
Asked what she thought of her party, Lila May said, “I like it.”
The Halls were looking for one special cake, and a baker donated it. Other bakers donated 5 more.
The event was captured by 3 photographers who donated their time, though Heidi said more than 30 volunteered.
Heidi Hall said she cries everyday because she was so touched by the outpouring of love and support.
“It’s deeply touching to see how everyone responded,” she told KOIN 6 News. It’s the kindest, most giving thing she’s ever seen happen, she said.
“Thanks is not enough.”
“I don’t even know a lot of these people,” Heidi told KOIN 6 News. “It’s just the most beautiful thing I think I’ve ever seen.”
The family said hundreds of people contacted them after hearing about Lila May’s story.
Recently, though, Lila May stopped getting chemotherapy treatments. Heidi said doctors told the family treatment is no longer an option because Lila May’s body is not strong enough.
Lila May has a lot of energy now because she’s not being sapped by the chemo. Heidi said her daughter is also energized by the excitement of this party.
The Hall family financially could not have done this for their daughter. Heidi said this will help give Lila May “all the joys she’s never going to get.”
To send cards: Lila May, PO Box 125, Hood River, Oregon 97031