BETHANY — About an hour before prom is set to start, Hayle Savage's mom ties a corsage on her wrist that covers up her hospital bracelet.
She isn't concerned with being a patient right now. Like any 16-year-old getting ready for her first prom, Hayle is worried about her hair, dress and makeup.
Her mother, aunts and grandmother are buzzing around the room with combs and hair spray, applying her lip gloss and adjusting her gown.
She's sitting in front of a sign that says “Hayle's Salon.”
Hayle is the center of attention. There's only one word she can muster to describe getting ready for her first prom.
“Cool,” she says.
Hayle has spina bifida, a birth defect in her spine, and uses a wheelchair to get around.
She's been at The Children's Center in Bethany for three weeks because of an infection in her leg. She'll be there for another six weeks or so.
This recent hospital trip will cause her to miss prom at Centennial High School, where she is a sophomore.
She also is unable to attend the Special Olympics Oklahoma summer games for the first time in eight years.
But she doesn't show any disappointment. Hayle's family says she has been looking forward to the hospital's annual prom for its patients.
About 15 kids will be enjoying an afternoon of music and dancing in a room normally used for physical therapy.
As she moves up the hall toward the dance, her posse of family members follows.
“You look so pretty,” one of the nurses calls out as Hayle goes by.
She has heard a rumor that University of Oklahoma football players are going to stop by, but she doesn't know until she's waiting to enter the dance that offensive lineman Bronson Irwin will be her date.
The Sooners are her favorite team, and as Irwin steps beside her wheelchair to escort her down the red carpet, the grin across her face is bigger than it's been all day.
During their first dance, Hayle's cheeks turn bright pink as she holds hands with the athlete who is twice her size.
A few dances later, linemen Gabe Ikard and John-Phillip Hughes join Hayle and Irwin and show her how to do “The Twist.”
Irwin said he has volunteered at the hospital before and was happy to help Hayle have a memorable experience.
“Everyone deserves to get a prom,” he said.
After a few dances, it's time to announce the king and queen of the prom, and for the first time since before the dance, the smile falls from Hayle's face.
She's nervous, and it shows. But then her name is called, and she goes forward to get her crown and sash. Once again, she is the center of attention.
Her mother, Kelly, gives her daughter a kiss. She says Hayle's stay in the hospital might just be a blessing in disguise.
“If she had gone to the prom at her school it wouldn't have been as special,” Kelly says with tears welling up in her eyes. “To see her that happy is amazing.”
Hayle says she couldn't have expected much more.
“It's cool because it's my first prom, and I got chosen as queen,” she says. “It doesn't get much better.”
As Irwin joins Hayle for the next dance, they hold hands once again and begin moving to a slow song.
Her corsage has moved a little, and the hospital bracelet is peeking out. But no one is paying attention to that. She's not a patient; she's the prom queen.
It's cool because it's my first prom, and I got chosen as queen. It doesn't get much better.”