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This article was published 26/10/2014 (1848 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
SUNDAY marked a moment many little girls will wish was frozen in time.
Among them was three-year-old Alexus Lee, who was diagnosed with leukemia in June 2013.
Munching on gummy worms and showing off her new temporary tattoos, Alexus was obviously loving her break from hospital appointments and chemotherapy treatment.
On Sunday, she took part in a fundraiser for the Children's Wish Foundation called Princess for a Day.
'I happened to buy a princess ball gown for my little girl who was about three at the time. I saw her prancing around in this dress and just thought, "Wow, I'd love to see many, many little girls doing this" ' — Stella Mazza
The event transformed 55 lucky girls into royalty inside the 'castle' at Canadian Mennonite University. Five of those girls were battling life-threatening illnesses.
Alexus's mom, Joanne Zhang, said her daughter's diagnosis was a shock to their family, who had no prior history of the blood cancer. Zhang and her husband brought Alexus to the doctor last year when she started to look pale.
"It caught us off guard. We weren't guessing that at all. We thought, 'Maybe she's low in iron,' but never leukemia," Zhang said.
According to her mom, Alexus has put up quite the fight.
"She's brave, oh my God," Zhang said. "Before they had a pick line put in (her arm), and she didn't like that. She could taste the saline every time they cleaned it. It was no good, no fun."
"So she likes the finger poke now. It's quick and it's just one poke, one Band-Aid and she's done."
Alexus got to forget about needles during Princess for a Day and focus on getting pampered. The girls were decked out in costume jewelry, ball gowns and tiaras, all of which they got to take home.
They also mingled with Disney princesses Ariel, Aurora and Cinderella before taking over the chapel to sing the hits from Frozen with Elsa and Anna.
The royal spectacle was Stella Mazza's idea.
Mazza previously owned and operated Stella's Bridal Salon and now designs jewelry. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2003, and about a year later, she had a light-bulb moment.
"I recovered from breast cancer and began to feel strong again. And from that moment, you know, you always have these turning points. You just want to give back, you want to start becoming more active in your community," she said.
"I happened to buy a princess ball gown for my little girl who was about three at the time. I saw her prancing around in this dress and just thought, 'Wow, I'd love to see many, many little girls doing this.' "
Now, getting to see 55 girls dance in velvet and chiffon can be quite nostalgic for Mazza. Her three children — Katrina, 28, Tony, 24, and Jovanna, 12 — also help co-ordinate Princess for a Day, now in its ninth year.
Elsie Tellier, 17, volunteered to speak at the event and greet the girls as they arrived. Tellier was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis when she was born. The progressive degenerative disease is genetic but had no known history among her family.
Tellier said she hoped the girls playing dress-up on Sunday would remember the qualities of a true princess.
"I think there's a sense of kindness when I was little that I saw from the Disney princesses — just being very gentle and very kind to other people," she said.
"They're giving back and they may not realize it now. But I think when they're older, they'll realize that giving back like this is important. You can have fun and do good at the same time."
Jessica Botelho-Urbanski covers the Manitoba Legislature for the Winnipeg Free Press.
Updated on Monday, October 27, 2014 at 6:48 AM CDT: Replaces photo