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This article was published 28/10/2013 (2205 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
For the dozens of young girls wandering the halls of Canadian Mennonite University, Sunday was a day of fluffy pink dresses and sparkling tiaras. For nine-year-old Chlo´ Poirier and her mother, Marj, it was about finding normalcy.
Chlo´ was diagnosed with cancer in her lungs before her second birthday. Around her fourth birthday, she was invited to the Princess for a Day event: a gathering of 61 girls who are treated like princesses in a literal sense of the word as a special fundraiser for the Children's Wish Foundation.
As members of the CWF family, the Poiriers, who live in Kenora, were invited guests along with five other families.
Organizer Stella Mazza, looking glorious in her hazelnut and gold princess frock, explained the event and the importance it brings to some of the children in simple terms, saying the day was about escaping reality — if only for a few hours.
"It's a thing where the girls don't have to worry about facing the doctor, where they don't have to face any needles. They can just enjoy the company and have fun as children, not as patients," said Mazza, now eight years into the annual event.
Not surprisingly, Chlo´, who recently overcame a two-week bout with pneumonia, was rather shy in front of the tape recorder and camera Sunday. She eventually gave away her glee with an occasional smile when she thought no one was looking, but Marj knew this quiet demeanour wasn't a true reflection of her personality.
They've been guests of the event for five years now, and Mom knows the positive impact it has on her daughter.
Chlo´ said her favourite part of the day was the chocolate fountain.
Marj's favourite part was everything else.
"It gives me such joy to see her so happy," she said. "It's a situation for us; we're driving to CancerCare from Kenora every week for (chemotherapy); I give her chemo every day. It's nice to see her just come into Winnipeg without any strings attached. She's just one of the girls (Sunday), and that just makes me so happy. There are others here from CancerCare, as well, and just to see the joy on their faces is what really gets me. I love seeing that."
Mazza provided the pink-and-white dresses, long silver gloves and tiaras to the girls, who received a "princess makeover" before being reintroduced as royalty later in the day. The families were then treated to a brief concert by a special guest — this year it was Belle from Disney's Beauty and the Beast — before the day wrapped up with a late lunch.
"This was only supposed to be a one-year thing," Mazza said, "but people really connected with each other so we couldn't stop."
Alli Minarik and her seven-year-old daughter, Jerzy, met the Poiriers at CancerCare Manitoba a few years ago, when her son was receiving treatment for his cancer. The families hit it off right away, offering support for each other during difficult times, and became friends outside of the clinic.
Sunday, Jerzy attended her first Princess event in support of Chlo´.
"This is something that makes everyone feel special," Minarik said while Jerzy and Chlo´ posed for pictures. "Sometimes you forget how a few hours in a day, doing something fun like this, can mean so much to a little girl."
Mazza wasn't sure how much money Princess for a Day raised this time around.
Last year, the event generated approximately $2,000 for the Children's Wish Foundation.