Little girl with cancer celebrates birthday, wedding and prom

HOOD RIVER, Ore. -- Like many 5-year-old girls, Lila May Schow dreamed of going to a ball. Unlike many children, though, Lila May is not expected to live much longer.

The Oregon girl has neuroblastoma, a cancer of the nerve tissue, and doctors have run out of options. She's undergone more than nine surgeries and numerous chemotherapy treatments over the last three years, her father, Ryan Schow, told ABC News. The family decided it was time to make the most of what time they have.

"We're not going to get the prom dance or daddy-daughter dance [at her wedding]," her dad said.

So for Lila May's fifth birthday, she had a blow-out ball that served as a birthday party, prom and "wedding" all in one. (The "groom" was her daddy.)

Though the idea for a big party came from Lila May's mother, Heidi Hall, the family said that hundreds of people stepped up to make it a reality -- at no cost to them.

"There's always been something about her that really inspires people," her dad said, "and she's inspired an army."

The party planners called themselves the "princess patrol" to go with the theme of the party, according to ABC affiliate KATU in Portland. They transformed a local event venue into a castle, complete with a throne for Lila May. They arranged for a horse-drawn carriage and got the guest of honor a custom-made princess dress. And they made sure there was plenty of cake, candy and decorations.

Many of the people who helped make the event a reality didn't even know Lila May, KATU reports. But from the people who just met her to the people who have known her her whole life, everyone had a story about what makes her special.

"One time I was with her with a man who had a dog who had cancer," said her grandmother Mari Fuellenbach, "and she said, 'Did your dog beat cancer?' and he said "Yes, my dog did,' and she said, 'I beat cancer, too.'"

She's also known for her love of dancing, something Princes Patrol member Stephanie Laur noticed right away, she said.

"I had the pleasure of meeting her when I presented her Cinderella dress to her a few days ago," Lauer said. "I was able to show her the space, and she had her little tap shoes on and was dancing with her father."

Hundreds of people came to be a part of Lila May's special day and she really enjoyed it, her family said. Among her favorite parts, though, was sharing the special moment her dad worried he'd never get.

"She said she really liked all the princesses and she said 'When my daddy cried because he was so happy," said Schow. "We did a father-daughter dance and I couldn't contain myself."

Click here to visit Lila May's fundraising page.

Images used with permission of Bryce Jenkinson. Find his photography on his website and Facebook page.