MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Prom season 2015 is officially upon us, but one Coon Rapids High School junior got some bad news right before his big night: he wouldn’t be able to go due to his illness. So, two health workers teamed up to give him the prom experience.
Growing up with cystic fibrosis is complicated. Three breathing treatments a night and a tube feeding as he sleeps, that’s what Jeph Novak endures.
“An excess of really thick mucus builds up in the lungs and the pancreas,” he said.
It’s a disease that shortens many lives and deepens some too, says the precocious teenager.
“Can’t really control the circumstances, you just have to make the best of what you’ve had,” Novak said.
For the most part, Coon Rapids junior Jeph Novak’s done just that – missing out on school musicals from time to time.
During his most recent two-week hospital stay for extra treatments and weight loss at the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital, however, he learned he was going to miss prom. He immediately started worrying for his girlfriend.
“I felt bad for Noelle more than anything, just because it made sense for me to miss it because it’s my disease, but not because of her. She shouldn’t of had to miss it because of me,” he said.
That’s when Jillian Brenton, a dietician at University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital, and Alyssa Falos, a social worker, took on their patient’s social plight. In just over a day, they decorated the room with a theme, got Olive Garden to cater, invited another couple and made sure Noelle could arrive in style.
“I think my favorite moment was wen Jeph’s girlfriend arrived in her dress and in the limo, and I’ve just never seen him smile like that,” Brenton said.
“He was so sweet and excited and he was all dressed up,” Falso said.
Now, back home and feeling strong Novak is still absorbing the night.
“I was so happy. I wasn’t expecting that big of a show,” he said.
He’s doing well, he is up 12 pounds from when he went tin the hospital and his breathing count is high.