He doesn't even have his locker yet with the Browns, but that didn't stop new wide receiver Brian Hartline from jumping straight into the Cleveland community and participating in Saturday night's A Prom To Remember.
Alongside Cleveland Cavaliers Anderson Varejao, Matthew Dellavedova and Joe Harris, Hartline threw on his sharpest blue suit and spent the evening inside the sparkling downtown Ritz-Carlton Hotel, posing for pictures, cracking one-liners and even busting out a quick dance move or two.
A Prom To Remember was created six years ago to give teens with life-threatening illnesses an opportunity to experience the occasion that has become a rite of passage in American culture each spring.
More than 150 teenagers and their guest arrived in limousines with their hair, nails and makeup done. Girls wore exuberant dresses of all colors; boys donned sleek tuxedos. Everything was donated.
As the students walked into the hotel, it truly had the glitz and glamour you'd see at a Hollywood awards show. Walking down a yellow brick road carpet for the Wizard of Oz themed dance, the teens were interviewed by local news reporters; photographers snapped pictures at paparazzi speed while Hartline and the Cavs players accompanied the girls to the ballroom. The boys' hearts melted as the Cavalier Girls escorted them arm-in-arm.
For one magical night, dealing with a serious illness was moved to the backburner. The thrill of being with kids their age sans the nurses, the doctors and the surroundings of a hospital is, well, priceless.
"This feels like a dream," marveled a 15-year-old girl named Amber. Another girl begged the hospital to grant her three hours of freedom because "there was no way I was missing my prom."
The brainpower behind Cleveland's A Prom To Remember is Jane and Mike Knausz as well as a dedicated committee of 15 who spend 10 months organizing the dance. The Knausz's are professional photographers and first heard of the event from their daughter, who volunteered during the first ever prom in Fort Lauderdale, and decided they needed to bring this experience to Cleveland.
Teens from all over Northern Ohio – from Youngstown, to Canton, to Sandusky – come for A Prom to Remember. Hartline himself made the two-hour drive from Columbus just to be there.
"I just really love seeing all the smiles on the kids' faces," said Hartline, who first got involved with* A Prom to Remember* in Fort Lauderdale. "I plan on going to this event each and every year."
The Browns First and Ten program is about inspiring Browns fans to make their community better by giving back 10 hours of community service. Share your story of how you are making a difference on http://www.clevelandbrowns.com/community/firstandten.html or use #give10. Follow @BrownsGiveBack on Twitter and Instagram for community updates