Manitoba

Winnipeg girls with life-threatening illnesses get princess makeover

Nearly 100 girls — including 34 battling life-threatening diseases — were treated to a royal makeover in Winnipeg Sunday.

Little girls don tiaras, given chance to 'forget about doctors, forget about needles' for a day

Nearly 100 girls — including 34 battling life-threatening diseases — were treated to a royal makeover in Winnipeg Sunday. 2:11

Nearly 100 little girls — including 34 battling life-threatening diseases — were treated to a royal makeover in Winnipeg Sunday.

The "Princess for a Day" event was held at the Manitoba Legislature as a way of raising funds for the Children's Wish Foundation. It gave girls a chance to don tiaras and ball gowns while mingling with Disney princesses.

Sara Hagi (pictured) has a rare form of acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Another 33 of the girls who got decked out in ball gowns and tiaras are living with life-threatening illnesses. (Erin Brohman/CBC)
"This is definitely a magical little day ... for many, many little girls," said Stella Mazza, a cancer survivor and the founder and chair of the event.

"Especially those that were with health concerns ... they just come, forget about doctors, forget about needles, forget about surgeries and just get taken away into fairy tale land for the day."

Fairy tale transformation

Three-year-old Sara Hagi has been receiving treatment at Winnipeg's Children's Hospital for a rare form of acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

She was one of the little girls who were transformed into a princess on Sunday afternoon.

"I like Cinderella and my favourite person is Snow White and Ariel and Belle ...  and Rapunzel," Sara said.

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      Sara's mother Jerusalem Kahsay was overjoyed, adding the family moved to Canada from Ethiopia in 2010.

      "For a year, the only places she knew was hospital, home, hospital, injections, chemo," Jerusalem said. "It's exciting; she gets to see other kids play and jump around....it's amazing to get to be able to do this."

      'This day is magical'

      Getting to play with other girls her age was "a huge thing for her," Jerusalem said. 

      "It's hard to see her in the hospital getting all that done, but to see her like this ... it's a happy tear ... it makes me happy," said Jerusalem. "This day is magical, that's all I can say. It's not every day she gets to go out."
      Hope Innis (holding the wand) said her favourite part of the day was 'dressing up as a princess and dancing.' Innis has pulmonary atresia. (Erin Brohman/CBC)

      Hope Innis has a heart condition known as pulmonary atresia, but that didn't slow her down on Sunday.

      "My favourite thing was dressing up as a princess and dancing," Innis said.

      The girls were allowed to take the princess outfits home.

      A series of donations from local businesses helped make the event possible which is now in its 10th year.

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