Paper stars bordered the red carpet that awaited guests of the Second Chance Dance, each bearing the name of an individual in attendance — and one bore the name of Felicia Ann Armstrong, who couldn't be there to see what she created.
Last summer was filled with medical complications for Felicia, who was 19 when she died at home in Jeffersontown in August, following health problems that began when she was born with a heart defect and a detached esophagus.
During one of her last stays at Kosair Children's Hospital, she came up with the idea for the Second Chance Dance, a dance for teenagers who had missed prom or homecoming because of serious medical illness.
Her dream became a reality this month, when the Children's Hospital Foundation and BraveHearts sponsored the dance in her honor at The Henry Clay downtown.
Planning the dance "kind of got her away from her hurt," Felicia's stepfather, Chuck Hale, 52, of Highview, said. "It made her feel better helping others."
Her mother, Maelene Hale, 52, said Felicia made it to her junior prom at North Bullitt High School despite health complications that made it difficult for her to eat. She wore a sparkly lavender dress that hit above the knee, and one of her best friends accompanied her as her date.
Felicia had a great time at the dance, her mother said, and she wanted other kids with health problems to have a chance to experience that.
One of those kids, 17-year-old Spencer Lindenmeyer, said the dance was an opportunity to make friends and feel normal for an evening.
"Even though I had to get my shots and medicines during the night to be able to do so much, it was all worth it," he said.
Spencer, a high school senior from Charlestown, Ind., has been home-schooled since middle school, when he first began having health problems, including Type 1 diabetes and mitochondrial disorder, which causes difficulties with his heart, energy levels and muscles.
He attended the dance with his sister, Cierra, 14, who also has serious health problems and is home-schooled.
Their mom, Darla Lindenmeyer, said a formal dance was something she never thought she would see them experience.
Spencer, whose energy levels were low for several days after the dance, said he met a girl there with whom he continued to keep in touch.
"It was good to be at a dance where no one looks at you different because of your medical problems," he said.
Felicia's last two years are documented in video blogs posted on YouTube. In each she logged the details of her life. Her voice is quiet and raspy, the result of a tracheostomy tube inserted when she was 5 that left a couple of her vocal cords paralyzed.
She loved Italian food and summer. When she was 13, an acquaintance folded her into a sleeper sofa during a trip to Chicago, a memory she laughed about with her best friend even six years later. She owned every season of "Friends," and she dipped her nacho-flavored Doritos in sour cream.
Last March, she revealed to YouTube viewers her idea to organize a prom "for people that didn't have the average high school experience." The theme for the dance — initially planned for May 2013 but pushed back so there would be more time to organize — would be Old Hollywood, she said, and she already had a date.
"One big thing that's going to be really different is I want everybody to get a crown," Armstrong said. "Not just a 'king' and 'queen.'"
She approached officials with Kosair Children's Hospital and Norton Healthcare with her idea. "It was an instantaneous yes," said her brother, Edwin Hale, 33.
Hale and other members of Felicia's family said they hope the Second Chance Dance will flourish into something bigger — perhaps become an annual event or even something other cities pick up on. Norton Healthcare hasn't yet determined whether the dance will become an annual event, a spokeswoman said.
Hale said seeing the end-product of something his little sister started was awe-inspiring.
"I'm just really excited to see her vision actually become a reality," he said. "I think it's her way of living on."