Updated: 04/29/2014 11:04 PM
Created: 04/29/2014 3:50 PM WDIO.com
Morgan Long is getting pumped up for prom. "My dress is getting hemmed," she told us on Monday. It's a beautiful gown, donated to her from Silver Rose in Cloquet.
Her date is a long-time family friend, who asked her to the big dance in a unique "promposal." He sent balloons shaped in the letters that formed the word PROM, flowers, and a request to take her to prom. This all arrived at her grandparents' home in Florida, where the Long family was visiting.
Morgan has never been to prom. "I was diagnosed with brain cancer at 17 months old, I'm 17 years old, and I've had six brain surgeries. It's been hard, but I keep pushing through, and keep smiling," she told us.
She and her family have been fighting cancer for so many years. They've had some help from the Northern Lights Foundation, in the form of a grant.
Molly Long, Morgan's mother, said going to medical appointments, taking time off of work, and the medical expense themselves make for a tight financial situation.
That's where the foundation comes into play. They award around $25,000 in grants each year, to families of children who are dealing with a life-threatening illness.
"We aim to ease some of the financial and emotional stress," said founder Dr. Ken Larson. He's a retired dentist, who saw a need for this type of organization back in 2006.
Events like the Guns n Hoses game between firefighters and police officers, as well as the Get More Cowbell musical fundraiser at Grandma's Sports Garden, generate the money for the foundation.
But this year, the Leadership Duluth Class of 2014 is putting on the First Annual Gala Dinner to benefit the foundation.
"I didn't know what the Northern Lights Foundation was, until now. It's great helping a new organization out, especially one that is focused on kids," explained Adam Traxler, who's part of Leadership Duluth.
The gala dinner is Friday night at the Greysolon Ballroom. Doors open at 5:30, and the event runs from 6-9pm. There are a limited number of tickets left, and you can get them at the door.
Molly Long and her husband Steve will be speaking at the event.
Please check out www.northernlightsfoundation.org for more information.
Dr. Larson said that they're always looking for other support too, beyond this dinner. They were able to help Morgan out with her prom experience, with a little extra help this year. It's all about making this time special for the Duluth teen, who's facing her 7th brain surgery in a few weeks. Her mother Molly told us it going to be a very serious, complicated surgery.
Special Report: A Dog's Life
Mushers often get the most recognition for winning sled dog marathons like the Northland's John Beargrease, but as many of them will tell you, the dogs are the real athletes.
Measles Makes Comeback, Northland Medical Experts on Alert
Nearly 100 cases of measles have been diagnosed over the past month in the U.S. and the virus is creeping closer to the Northland with a case was confirmed on Wednesday in a 20-year-old male student at the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities.
Minn. Bill Would Require Talking to Doctor before Skipping Vaccine
A Minnesota lawmaker wants parents who don't vaccinate their children to meet with a doctor first. Rep. Mike Freiberg has a bill that would require those parents to learn about vaccines and their impact on diseases from a health care provider.
More Loan Forgiveness Money Proposed for Medical Professionals
Lawmakers have introduced bills to add more people to the list who are eligible for loan forgiveness. The goal is to encourage medical professionals to work in rural areas.
A Group Effort: Duluth 'Blueprint for Safety' to Deal With Domestic Violence
Duluth leaders unveiled a new community collective for responding to domestic violence Thursday that builds upon the long-standing Duluth Model.