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"I wish the best for this community for the next four years and hope to return as your MLA four years from now."
- Evan Berger  
Former MLA and Minister   
   

 

Story
Tammi Wiebe photo
Shaylee Zeller along with her Turning Pointe friends and dance partners attends the Festival of Stars on Saturday, April 22nd.
 
On Saturday, April 22nd the public gathered at the MD McEacheron School for the Turning Pointe Dance Studio (TPDS) annual Festival of Stars, and the homemade lasagna fundraiser in support of local student and dancer Shaylee Zeller.
Zeller, a Grade 12 student at Livingstone School in Lundbreck and longtime member of TPDS, is a patient at the Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary, where she is being treated for a neuropathy condition affecting her gastrointestinal system.
Angie Marra, whose daughter danced with Zeller for years, said a group comprising individuals from TPDS and Livingstone School, as well as some of Zeller’s friends, came up with the idea to hold a fundraiser dinner in order to do what they could to help her.
The dinner was scheduled between the two sets of the Festival of the Stars, and included dinner, dessert and a silent auction.
According to Marra, “the funds raised will be used for purchasing medical equipment which Zeller requires in order to permit her to come home from the hospital, the cost of the equipment is not covered by Alberta Health Care.”
Though the exact number has not been tallied as of press time, Marra did note that the Shaylee’s family, and friends “were overwhelmed by the support of the communities in which Shaylee lives and dances.”
“It’s nice to see the community members pull together in a time of so much negativity in the Crowsnest Pass. We had many people volunteer, contribute and simply offer kind words of encouragement, that overwhelmed the organizers”.
Marra says that Shaylee is, “a inspiration, she doesn’t let her illness define her. Her motivation and strength comes naturally and you can’t help but be inspired by her”.
Shaylee was able to get a day pass from the Children’s Hospital to attend the event.
 

When asked how it felt to be home after almost eight months in the hospital Zeller responded, “It was so nice to be home, sleep in my own bed and see people I haven’t seen in months. It seemed surreal, almost like a dream”.
Zeller was surprised at how many people came to the dinner in support of her and her family. “The gym was full of people who love me and have gone above and beyond for me. They made T-Shirts for me and had banners put on the walls to welcome me. It was overwhelming”.
Dancing since she was two-years old, Zeller was sat in the front row of the gymnasium and watch the performances of her friends and past students. “I was so proud to be there with Turning Pointe teachers, Ms. Fenton, Ms. Christina and Ms. Kandis. They come to see me at the hospital all the time and are really like another family to me”.
Zeller will be allowed a day pass to attend her graduation next weekend in Cowley and has been awarded Valedictorian for the Livingstone School. She will also receive the President’s Admissions Scholarship to the University of Calgary and hopes in the future to get a Bachelor of Science and then go to medical school. Her dream is to eventually become a surgeon.
“I want to improve people’s live and help people the same way all my doctors and nurses have helped me.”
Zeller has nothing but praise for the people at the Children’s Hospital in Calgary, “while here I’ve been treated by amazing people and several of my nurses are coming to see me graduate and help to get me through the day. Some of them are only a couple of years ahead of me.”
To all the people who organized her fundraiser Zeller wants to acknowledge, “I don’t think a simple thank you is enough. I’m just so grateful to have so many caring and generous people in my life and that I’m grateful they were willing to help me. I feel so grateful to everyone.”
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