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Turlock Lions pitch in for Parker’s Prom
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Hundreds of Central Valley children have experienced the joy of Parker’s Prom, including the two individuals pictured above at this year’s celebration held last month (Photo courtesy of the Bockhop family).

Lions Clubs International focuses on five initiatives, one being to provide support to children battling cancer and their families. Turlock Lions 1210 is a member of District 4-A1, and the story of one family’s experience in the district has inspired them to get involved.

Liz and Troy Bockhop of Chowchilla are those Lions members, and the passing of their son, Parker, in 2007 has catapulted a unique celebration experienced by children from across the state of California.

Parker Bockhop was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia before his second birthday on Oct. 28, 2001. Prior to his passing in 2007, the folks at Valley Children’s Hospital in Madera came up with idea to host a prom for those who wouldn’t be able to experience the milestone themselves.

“The nurse had heard of these events taking place in New York and Chicago, and I initially thought they wanted me to help them get this underway, but it turned out they just wanted me to do it, but I couldn’t get any funding,” Liz explained. “How could I do that myself with everything I was dealing with in terms of Parker and his treatment?”

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Parker Bockhop was able to experience his prom at six years of age just prior to his passing due to a battle with cancer. His vision is now going 16 years strong, with what has become known as Parker’s Prom (Photo courtesy of the Bockhop family).

Parker, at six-years-old, overheard the conversation and took matters into his own hands, going behind his mother’s back and talking about the idea with the Fresno Falcons hockey team while being a member of their children’s cancer program.

“He was floating this idea to the players and owners without me even knowing, and when the owners came up to me, I was so confused,” Bockhop said. “I ended up explaining how the idea came to be between me and the nurses at the hospital, and they offered to pay for it all. I was pretty much in shock, and I just decided that ‘Hey, we’re doing this now.’ So yeah, the little burger went out and found the funding on his own.”

The annual event would be tabbed as Parker’s Oncology Prom, better known just as “Parker’s Prom.”

“We have children from the ages of  2 to 19 and their whole families go to prom. The only criteria is that the child has to be a cancer patient. They can be out of treatment, or they can be in treatment. They must be a patient from the Central Valley, from Bakersfield to Sacramento,” Bockhop explained. “There's a tattoo area, there is an arts and crafts area like Parker wanted, there's another area like John's Incredible pizza where you play carnival games and then you turn your ticket in for prizes. There is another area for dancing and we have a DJ. There is something for everyone. It gives them a chance to be normal children. We even have stylists to do the hair of the girls and the moms and we have local barbers give the boys haircuts and do designs if they want them.”

According to Bockhop, it costs between $8,000 to $10,000 to put on the dance.

This year was the 16th edition of Parker’s Prom, and the first one at full capacity since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now that more kids who are battling cancer are reconvening for the event, which has been held in Chowchilla, the Turlock 1210 Lions are putting together an action plan to raise money for the cause.

“It all comes down to raising money for childhood cancer, which is one of the five missions of the Lions Club,” explained Conrad Renteria, president of Turlock 1210 Lions. “The Bockhop family is in our district, so we thought setting up on the sidewalks would be a good way to go about it.”

As Renteria referred to, the Lions will be taking over the corners of Countryside Drive and Monte Vista Avenue on April 15, engaging with community members in hopes of filling up buckets with change to donate to the Parker’s Prom initiative.

“About 8 years ago, I heard on a radio station of a fundraiser for a similar thing. And I heard that they raised so much money for a good cause,” explained Renteria. “I just thought, ‘They always do a Fill the Boot fundraiser with the firefighters,’ so I just thought why don’t we do something for the kids?”

Liz admitted that it is something that the Bockhop family didn’t expect.

“I’ll be honest, I didn’t even know Conrad was doing this until he told me a few days ago, but we’re all for it,” she said.

The Lions have worked alongside the Turlock Police Department to prepare for next month’s fundraiser. To ensure safety, volunteers will not be able to walk onto the street to accept donations. Instead, commuters are encouraged to drive on the lane closest to the sidewalk, or park and walk over to drop off their change. The organization of the event will also allow for individuals walking to conveniently drop off any change they’d like to donate.

“We’re going to be at all four corners,” Renteria said. “Just save your change and come by and see us.”

To learn more about Parker’s Prom or to donate to the cause in a different way, head to and select “Parker’s Prom” under the District Projects tab.