Birthday Party, Prom, and Wedding: Parents Throw Epic Bash for a 5-Year-Old With Cancer

Jennifer O'Neill
·Writer
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“We’re on a limited time with Lila,” Ryan Schow tells Yahoo Parenting about his 5-year-old daughter, who is fighting cancer. So the family threw her a royal party, complete with princesses and her very own throne. (Photo: Facebook/Lila May’s Birthday Princess Ball Planning)

A party, proposal, and princesses — Lila May Schow, 5, had the birthday bash of a lifetime on July 31 in Hood River, Ore. And that’s exactly what her parents wanted to give her, because it just might be her last. The little girl has been fighting cancer for the past three years — since she was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma at age 2 — and doctors recently told her family that she has only a few months to live. 

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“At first we just wanted to do a nice princess party, but we’re on limited time with Lila,” her dad, Ryan Schow, tells Yahoo Parenting. So the family — including Lila’s stepfather, Blake Hall, and mother, Heidi Hall — extended the party theme to include other milestones in a girl’s life. “We decided to give her that prom she’ll never see and that wedding day. And when Lila’s mom mentioned it in a post on Facebook, the response she got was insane.” 

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The entire community rallied around little Lila, donating time, money, and resources in response to Heidi’s call for help to make Lila “feel like the belle of the ball” because it would be “quite possibly her last birthday.” 

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(Photo: Facebook/Lila May’s Birthday Princess Ball Planning) 

With a volunteer army, the family transformed Hood River’s Butler Banking Building, an event space, into a castle for the Friday afternoon festivities — which included horse-drawn carriage rides, princesses, a banquet, a DJ, balloons, face-painting, and six different cakes. “She was pretty impressed,” her father tells Yahoo Parenting. “But I’d say her favorite parts were the carriage ride and when her daddy cried because she was so happy.”

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(Photo: Facebook/Lila May’s Birthday Princess Ball Planning) 

In the sweetest moment of the touching festivities, Lila said, ‘I do,’ to her true love: Dad. “She’s a very caring little girl,” he says. “And really resilient and very strong. Even when she’s hit hard with chemo and in her surgeries, she just keeps loving, and has the ability to really inspire people, too.” 

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(Photo: Facebook/Lila May’s Birthday Princess Ball Planning) 

But after the stunning celebration and outpouring of support, Heidi revealed that it was Lila who ended up inspired. “We woke up this morning thinking it was a beautiful dream,” the mom wrote on Facebook, following the bash. “And then realized it was real. Lila said she had her own fairy tale ball.” The birthday/prom/wedding was, declares mom, “incredible.” Just like little Lila.

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(Photo: Facebook/Lila May’s Birthday Princess Ball Planning) 

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