A plan to give an eight-year-old South Surrey girl the birthday party of a lifetime evolved into something much bigger Friday, when Ellaray Lewis was treated to an entire day of pampering and fun.
Organizer Nikita Graham – a Panorama resident who met Ellaray last summer while face-painting at a City of Surrey event – said the youngster had a “girls’ day” that included getting her hair, makeup and nails done before heading, in a limousine, to a party at the Crown Palace banquet hall.
“She kept saying, ‘oh my gosh, I can’t believe this is for me’,” Graham said.
Ellaray was first introduced to Peace Arch News readers in May 2008, when she was just 16 months old, after a former classmate of her dad’s decided to organize a fundraiser to help the family. Born with a rare condition that developed into an aggressive skin cancer, over the years, Ellaray has undergone more than two dozen surgeries to fight it.
Prior to her seventh birthday, doctors diagnosed her with scoliosis – a curvature in her spine that means she has to wear a body cast most of the time.
After meeting Ellaray and learning her “very heavy-on-the-heart” story from her dad, Craig, last summer, Graham said she had to do something.
A website was created, donations and sponsors collected, and the idea of Friday’s soiree became reality.
Graham said she and Ellaray have become fast friends along the way, and she plans to continue organizing special days for the spirited girl, timed to ease the anxiety of upcoming surgeries.
“Since I’ve met her, I’ve just fallen in love with her,” Graham said. “She brings out the kid in me.”
Graham said donations left over from Friday’s event were enough to give $1,000 to Ellaray and her dad to help with expenses, and she hopes the financial support received through www.onceuponyourtime.ca will continue.
She knows that all the time and effort put into the occasion was worth it. Craig Lewis told her that Friday night, as he tucked Ellaray into bed, she told her dad it had been “the best day of my life.”