Call it royal prerogative.
After all the cameras had stopped clicking, three-year-old Aurora Beavil retreated into the arms of her grandmother Lori Strandlund.
Her place of quiet was right in front of the deli counter in the Country Grocer store on West Saanich Road, where she and her family had just received tickets for a trip to Disney World through Help Fill A Dream, an organization that supports Vancouver Island and Gulf Island children with life-threatening conditions.
Dressed like a 19th century princess, Aurora had been standing in the spotlight for the last half hour, as families and total strangers asked her to move over there, stand here and smile a little bit more as they were trying to get the right shot.
If this all sounds very exhausting, Aurora showed nothing less than regal poise. But the duties of representation rarely cease and after a brief respite, Aurora had to answer a few questions about what she thought about all the hoopla surrounding her.
As one might expect from someone of her age, her answers were brief, but her body language spoke volumes when she was asked about going to Disney World.
A knowing smile flashed her across her rosy cheeks.
“I’m going to have fun,” she says.
Such declarations might have been impossible not so long ago, for Aurora was born with a hole in her heart, a condition that required life-saving surgery when she was just 18 months old.
Now, she is about to embark on a trip that will give her a chance to meet her favourite Disney princesses, like Snow White.
Money for the trip came courtesy of a fundraising campaign held across seven Country Grocer stores on Vancouver Island and Salt Spring Island on behalf of Help Fill A Dream.
Running between Nov. 13 and Dec. 11, the campaign raised $10,128. Overall, the relationship between the regional grocery chain and the charitable organization has so far raised more than $70,000 over the course of six years.
“This is an amazing feat and it has gone a long way to help us help families on Vancouver Island, Salt Spring and all the other Gulf Islands,” said Craig Smith, executive director of Help Fill A Dream.
After Smith had presented Aurora with her tickets to applause, Strandlund thanked Help Fill A Dream and Country Grocer for their support.
“So from the bottom of our hearts, we would have never had an opportunity to experience the love that we felt or the trip we are about to embark on. It is just going to be a lifetime memory.”
For Strandlund, this upcoming trip also marks the conclusion of a difficult and draining journey.
“It is extremely difficult to manage the emotional stress that accompanies a diagnosis of a life-threatening health problem affecting your grandchild,” she said. “The whys, what ifs, blame, guilt, confusion and all the questions can be overwhelming.”
The family leaves Feb. 11 and Aurora’s dad Simon Beavil looks forward to the occasion.
“I can’t wait to see Aurora smile when she sees all of her favourite Disney characters for real.”