As Stettler’s little princesses danced the afternoon away at the community hall, they were given a reminder of the real reason they were there.
Each of the guests at the Stettler Little Princess Ball for Cystic Fibrosis Canada was given a treat bag that contained roughly 20 small candies — around the same number of pills that a young patient with CF must take on a daily basis.
Kelly Tibbets, who organized the original Princess Ball in Red Deer and also attended the Stettler event, said it was a tangible reminder of the reality of life with CF.
“With a children’s event, it’s kind of hard to find the balance,” she said. “A kid can look at this and go, ‘That’s a lot of pills.’”
The sold-out ball drew about 320 people altogether to the Stettler Community Hall on Saturday, Feb. 28, raising a grand total of $25,136 for Cystic Fibrosis Canada.
The event was a direct continuation of the balls that have been held annually in Red Deer since 2012, started by Tibbets, whose daughter was diagnosed with CF at the age of three weeks.
Cystic fibrosis is a genetic disorder that primarily affects the lungs and digestive system. It is the most common fatal genetic condition among children and young adults in Canada, affecting one out of every 3,600 children born here.
While treatments, therapy and proper nutrition have greatly improved both the quality of life and the life expectancy for CF patients, there is no known cure.
Tibbets said the Little Princess Ball has spawned similar events in several Canadian cities, including Calgary, Edmonton, Regina, Winnipeg and Windsor, Ont., but added she was impressed by how the residents of Stettler supported the event here.
“I’m blown away by this town,” she said, noting that she wouldn’t have predicted that “a town of this size could so fully support an event of this calibre.”
Keri Snowden, who was in charge of soliciting sponsors, said she was amazed at the level of support she got from local residents, businesses and organizations.
“People in this town are very generous,” said Snowden, whose niece, Brooke Mulgrove, was diagnosed with CF at the age of one and continues to live with the disorder at age 12.
Brooke, the daughter of Michelle and Ryan Mulgrove, gave a short speech during Saturday’s event, talking about life with CF and the regular treatment she faces, which includes a combination of pills and the use of a ventilation machine.
The three-hour event saw the Community Hall transformed into a grand ballroom, with a house DJ keeping the tunes coming and a steady stream of dancers on the floor.
Besides the dance floor, there were lots of other activities to keep the princesses entertained, from face painting and glitter tattoos to crafts, colouring and a dessert buffet.
Two photographers donated their time, shooting pictures of the guests in their formal attire, while there were also raffles and a silent auction.
Many local teenagers and adults also volunteered for the afternoon, dressing up as princes and princesses to lend a strong air of royalty to the proceedings.
Many of the Disney princesses and princes were represented, including Elsa from the popular film Frozen, along with her plucky snowman friend Olaf.
Organizers said there are plans to continue the event next year. For more information, check out “The Little Princess Ball — Stettler” on Facebook.