A month ago today I shared Spencer and Caitlin’s photos as they waited for their little one to arrive. How exciting to now share little Amanda’s photos now! I have loved journeying with SPencer and Caitlin from engagement, wedding, maternity and now parenthood! They are so relaxed and natural – it was great watching them love on little Amanda!

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Blanket made by her great grandma….

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And sweater set made for her by her other great grandma….

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I love how she just curls up in mom’s lap!

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And a sweet hair bow by her aunt!

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I love the stage when all you want to do is lie around and stare in amazement at your baby. (Okay – my babies are 8 and 10 and there are days I still want to do this!)

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Congratulations again!

Celebrating life and love,


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This Christmas has been one of my favourites… the girls are at that great age between toys and teens. They are old enough to play games with and joke around with, but they’re young enough to still love toys and playing. This Christmas the focus was not on gifts which was so refreshing. It left lots of time for hanging out and making memories. Santa gave the girls one small toy, and we gave them bathing suits… to use at Great Wolf Lodge in the New Year. That was it. As far as family – we said if you want to get something, great. If you want to make something or give something second hand or… nothing at all – great. It was so fun to have no pressure or expectations this year except to be together and make memories.

We do love traditions and have some we do every year… one of our favourites is our goofy Christmas card. We decide on the theme as a family and have fun with it. We try to create something that tells about our year and us. Here’s a look at some of our previous cards…..

This was 2007 that started our goofy cards. I was trying to do a nice family photo and got frustrated and took goofy individual photos instead – which lead to this:

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In 2008 the kids were no more cooperative for a pretty picture. So we brainstormed as a family. They decided they wanted us all to be Barbies. Okay… we’ll go with it. So we all had our own Barbie box… on the back of each Barbie box was a description of us and what we had done that year.

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In 2009 we had left the city and moved to the country. So we wanted to play up on our new status as country bumpkins.

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2010 was my favourite and I have these images blown up in our kitchen now. As I age I realize “masks” we hide behind are pretty useless.. Don’t benefit anyone. So instead we wanted to show our true selves. The front of the card shows us as the perfect Norman Rockwell type family. (aka… the mask is on…) This is the card showing front and the back cover.

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Then you open it up and you see the real us… bye bye mask!

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Last year in 2011 we tried to capture the excitement of our girls – and the tiredness of Mark and I! (this shows the front of the card – on the right – and back of the card – on the left – laying flat)

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And finally this year – we wanted to tell about our year but couldn’t choose what aspect to share. So we shared a whole bunch of different facts from our year.


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Merry Christmas everyone!

Celebrating life and love,



December 20, 2012 Mike and Christa’s boys

I am fortunate to have made some very good friends through the wedding industry. This photo session and the one coming up next are of two gals (and their families) who are amazingly talented at what they do and I love working with them… and hanging out with them! Christa started as a client – but quickly turned into a friend. Christa, Jocelyn (who I’m posting next!) and I love to get together and let our creative juices flow – you can see an example of that HERE, to discuss the wedding industry, trends and being small business owners. But we also love to gab about family, books and life in general. One thing I love about both of these gals is their desire to be their best – in business as well as in their marriages, parenting, friendships and general being. Love these two. I’ll blog Jocelyn soon – but here’s some I wanted to share of Christa!

Christa is the owner of the amazing Anista Designs! Her beautiful stationary is in demand worldwide – often when we chat she is sending items to Australia or throughout the United States. Christa’s work has also been featured in magazines and many websites – including Disney Baby and Glamour magazine. To say I’m proud is an understatement!

But back to photos and this great family… I first photographed Mike and Christa’s engagement, and then their gorgeous wedding, maternity, first child, Christmas photos, as they waited for their second child, and then baby Matthew. And now it was time for our annual photo session!

Christa besides being talented is also big hearted. Since her university days – 12 years in a row! – she has done a turkey dinner at Christmas for her friends. Instead of bringing items for dinner or money to cover the cost of dinner – Christa asks them to bring items to give to a family they “adopt” at Christmas. This year they chose Meera’s family – and Christa came with me to deliver their gifts! In her 12 years of doing this great tradition – this was her first time being able to meet the recipient!

By the time we got back to Christa’s home from visiting Meera, the sun had set (days are SOOO short!) and we wondered if we could do any photos that evening as hoped. I told her to dress the boys in their Dapper Lads suits and we would see what we could do. We took about half an hour, and using just the light of the Christmas lights… managed to capture some magical photographs that capture the feel of Christmas through a child’s eyes. And to capture Matthew’s knees. You’ll see what I mean. Prepare to swoon.

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Celebrating life and love,


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December 19, 2012 Spencer and Caitlin

I’ve said it before – I love following the growth of a family through my lens. A few years ago I photographed SPencer and Caitlin’s engagement and wedding… and last weekend I got to document the next stage of their life… waiting for baby!

I commented in their wedding blog post about how I loved how these two look at each other. Still true! Spencer is always looking at his beautiful bride, and Caitlin and that mega-watt smile beams back at him. Can’t wait to see them as parents! Should be any day now – due at the start of January which I think is extra fun as it’s not only what day will the baby come… but also what year is in question!

We met at their home, and photographed in and around their house. I love photographing at people’s homes as it tells part of their story!

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I always love seeing baby’s room… such a space of anticipation as new parents decorate and prepare for their newest addition. I just think of it as a room of dreams… I can remember carefully decorating and preparing for my babes, and sitting in their rooms and trying to imagine what my baby might look like or how it will feel to be a mother. As much as one prepares, you’re never prepared to love so deeply and to parent this new being.

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Spencer and Caitlin – congratulations! Can’t wait for the notice when the wee one arrives!

Celebrating life and love,


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December 18, 2012 Meera – Year in Review

This year has been the most unpredictable year of my life – with so many highs and lows, and new people and endeavours. One of the highlights of my year has been little Miss Meera who has snuck into my heart.

I met Meera a year ago this December when photographing at the Ronald McDonald House in Toronto. I instantly fell for her – and after connecting with her mom asked if they’d allow me to follow them for a year documenting what life looks like for a child going through cancer. Not pretty portraits – but monthly visits documenting life. Well, it’s been a year – and I’ve already apologized to Roy and Laura – but they’re stuck with me. There’s no way I can say “so long!” after all we’ve been through together this year. Not sure how frequent or what our visits will look like in the future, but these guys are more like family now and family is for keeps. icon smile Meera   Year in Review

As I looked back over the photos of this past year, several things stuck out to me….

The roller coaster of emotions – not knowing what was around each bend. Never being able to predict the outcome of the next treatment, surgery or scan. The tears of joy and pain. Having no control over this war against Meera’s body – but fighting with everything available.

The strength though is what comes through for me over and over and over. Laura’s snuggles and comforting hugs for her girls. Roy’s quiet constant presence that is comforting to his three girls. And Ameena – who has only known life in and out of hospitals – and her ability to roll with it. To laugh, smile and be content whether at home or in a waiting room. This family seems to have bonded through this all. Not to mention the many visits from grandparents, uncles, and many, many friends and other family.

The bond between patients and their families. I don’t know what it is like to have a child who is battling for her life. But many who do have come alongside Roy and Laura and walked alongside them. Offering them love, advice, support and a listening ear. It is beautiful to see the support of virtual strangers.

And I have been overwhelmed by the support of my friends, family and church. Everywhere I go people ask me about Meera. Today, again, I was able to play Santa and deliver gifts from friends, clients, a wedding planner, and neighbours. Meera asked me a few times “Are you Santa?” and I had to say “no” and remind her how many people love her and want to shower her with tokens of their love and support. I’m just the messenger – and so honoured to do so!

But enough of me blabbering on – here’s a look back at my year with Miss Meera….

December 2011 – I met two year old Meera at Ronald McDonald House in Toronto during her chemo treatment

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January 2012 – This was my first visit specifically with Meera – she was at the hospital in Newmarket and I had no idea what to expect. It was tough to see someone so little go through such distress, but after some cuddles from mom or dad, she was back to playing with her princess dolls and bounced back to being an imaginative kid again.

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February 2012 – I visited Meera in her home, she was tuckered out and fell asleep on the couch with her sister. So sweet. This same night her parents shaved each other’s heads to show Meera they were behind her as she went through chemo and lost her hair. It was such a beautiful act of love.

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March 2012 – I got to witness the start of a beautiful friendship between Rose the clown (a child life specialist at Sick Kids) and Meera. Rose has been such a great support for Meera through some tough days!

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April 2012 – I went to a chemo treatment with Meera – always the princess!

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May 2012 – I enjoyed time at Meera’s home with her and the family. Blowing bubbles, watering the garden, swinging and just being a kid.

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June 2012 – It was June 4. I won’t forget that date as I was there for Meera’s “last” chemo treatment.

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July 2012 – Meera had a “Chemo’s done” Party with friends and family – and even Cinderella came for a visit! It was special to see Meera with her good friend Rebekah who I had also connected with this past year. Rebekah had a successful heart transplant in June. Too amazing strong young women.

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August 2012 – It was so good to spend time with them just being a family this month. Chemo was done – and as they vacationed in Niagara, they went to the Butterfly Conservatory where we celebrated new life.

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September 2012 – This was a tough one. After celebrating the last couple months – we were back at Sick Kids as they found a tumour. Cancer had relapsed.

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I went again in September when Meera had her tumour removed. What a trooper this munchkin is.

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October 2012 – Meera had to have yet another surgery. I went in the day after her surgery expecting to find her sad and miserable. But kids are resilient. Instead I found a playful, happy girl.

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Later in October we celebrated Meera’s third birthday!

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November 2012 – Another surgery. This time major. A 15 hour surgery to remove part of Meera’s nose, her upper lip, 6 teeth, part of her fibula to rebuild her face… this would change how Meera looked. But nothing could change this warrior’s spirit and spunk.

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December 2012 – Brings me to today. Last week Meera had her fourth surgery in as many months. SHe had to have more removed (the piece that forms the nostrils). This was tough for her as she doesn’t want more surgeries – unless it’s to give her teeth back. I hadn’t seen Meera since November – and when I had seen her then she was still bandaged. I didn’t know what to expect – but I was pleasantly surprised at the beautiful girl who grabbed my hand and hauled me from toy to toy and wanted to play. If anything her eyes now look huge – and they shine so bright. She is so gorgeous, I loved visiting with her and the family today in their home.

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Meera and her family just came back form their Children’s Wish trip to Disney!

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Ameena is getting so big and is now walking!

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Meera loved showing me her gingerbread house.

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This is Meera trying to convince me she’s allowed to paint in her bed. ha ha.

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Painting at the table. Not her bed. icon smile Meera   Year in Review

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As mentioned – I was able to play Santa and deliver gifts today from so many generous people. Some Meera opened today (since she saw us bring them) – and some will be saved for later! The notes of encouragement and support are just as special as the gifts!

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Beautiful Meera… love you!

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The family has some appointments on Friday – will find out after that about the next steps in chemo and such. Please keep Meera and her family in your prayers!

Celebrating life and love,


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December 16, 2012 Martin Family

Cherie and I have been friends for over 20years and gone through so much together – the very good and the very bad. We have traveled together, spent time as families together, laughed, cried, fought and bonded over the years. Love this girl and her beautiful family! Always a treat to photograph friends – and it was fun to have Cherie’s family come over for an afternoon and to document them at our home.

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Cherie and Pete….

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Cherie’s stepdaughter Jodie – and my daughter’s inspiration for her new short hair cut!

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Aliah – Eden and her use to fight so bad, but I’m thankful they’re finally friends!

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Caden – the only boy on our group of friends who hang out

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And I always love getting photos of the couple during a family session!

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My beautiful friend!

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Celebrating life and love,


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December 6, 2012 Sweet Sixteen

Twenty years ago (and twenty days to be exact!) I turned 16. I thought that this was the best age ever for several reasons – the two main ones being I was now old enough to drive and also to officially date (by my parent’s rules). Could life get any better?

Fast forward two decades, and I have to say “yes”. Sixteen might have been an exciting age – but what I have enjoyed more than 16 years of life, has been 16 years of marriage. (This is the point where you all say “you’re too young to have been married sixteen years!”)

I look back sixteen years and I think how little I knew. Married life has been an adventure and a blessing. To have someone to support, encourage, laugh and dream with has been amazing. I am so thankful for Mark. I can not think of another man on the face of the earth who would put up with me – never mind love me and all my crazy, scatterbrained ways.

This upcoming year will be a new chapter in our lives as we have been dreaming up some new changes and adventures which I’ll share later. I can not think of a better person to tackle new adventures with than my life’s journey partner.

Mark, I love you so much and am so thankful you chose me.

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Celebrating life and love,



November 10, 2012 Darcy and Cassie

Darcy and Cassie had a gorgeous Fall wedding – it called for rain but it held off long enough to get some amazing skies and beautiful images. I love Fall weddings so much! Cassie had planned out every detail so thoroughly – wait until you see all these great touches!

Katie was assisting me that day and started with the guys – when she pulled up she could hear “banging”. Turns out the guys were relaxing shooting out back at Darcy’s parents farm. Fortunately they clean up well!

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Darcy and Cassie’s son Carson had so much fun getting muddy! Loved it! Watch his reaction to getting dolled up though.

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Meanwhile I was back with the girls – loving all the red!

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Darcy and Cassie’s daughter Callie was so sweet!

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And here she is with her cousin – only two weeks apart!

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Time for Cassie to get ready! So beautiful!

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So glad the weather held out – the ceremony spot was gorgeous!

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Carson was so sweet!

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Loved the reception decor – and the favour was a masquerade mask as it was just days before Halloween. So fun!

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If you follow my blog you may recognize these two… Cassie is Laura (Meera’s mom) cousin. So it was so fun for me to see Meera and the gang having fun!

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Such a fun party!

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Celebrating life and love,


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November 10, 2012 I Am Just One

When I went to Uganda in June, it was a dream come true. I have always wanted to go to Africa – to see first hand all that I have read about for years. I saw and learned so much. When I came home I kept wondering what I could do to help on an ongoing basis. The thought that I had packed up and came home – but that the people I had met who were struggling in disease, poverty and hard times were still there struggling… it just didn’t sit well. What could I do to help?

If you’ve been following my blog you may know some of this story… but I’ll share anyhow.

Back in 2011 I started to pray that God would use my camera to offer hope and do more. To make a difference.

In December 2011, while photographing at the Ronald McDonald House I met Meera. I fell in love and asked if I could photograph her once a month. And you’ve all seen how that has gone – the world has fallen in love with this little monkey as we’ve journeyed with her through the good and bad.

A friend notified me about a photo contest by Watoto to win a trip to Uganda alongside some National Post photographers who would be mentoring us. I figured there was no way that I’d win – but I entered an image of Meera, and an image from an orphanage in El Salvador I was at in January 2012. I was shocked to win – and to be off to Uganda in June. The photographers from the Post shared that it was that image of Meera that really tugged their hearts and let me win. Again I saw how my prayer to use my camera was being answered.

I went to Uganda… and when I came home I wore the necklace I bought there as a souvenier. Everywhere I went people asked me where they could get one – and so I put on my website asking if anyone else would like to purchase one with funds going back to Living Hope. In two weeks we sold over 200 necklaces!

And then the waiting list started as more and more people wanted necklaces.

And I saw again this little prayer being answered.

On November 1, my good friend Sarah and I launched “JustOne” – world changing fashion. The idea is I am just one person… but I can make a difference. We sell the handmade items from women around the world, and help support them long term. It is also about raising advocates for women across the globe.

And now today, November 10, the next crazy, unbelievable part of our journey is here. Sarah and I are leaving tonight to go back to Uganda. And then to Kenya. And lastly to South Africa. We are going to make connections for JustOne, to purchase new items, and to document the needs and how they are being met by the organizations we support.

If one year ago you would have told me that I would have a new group of people (Meera’s family) that are now a part of my family, and that I would have traveled to Africa twice… I would have thought you were insane. God has a good sense of humour.

We will be blogging as internet allows on our JustOne blog. Please check it out!

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Celebrating life and love,


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November 8, 2012 Meera: November

(Meera is a beautiful 2year old with cancer that I am photographing once a month for a year. You can see more about her here: December, January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, part one of September and part two, October part one, part two and her story in her mom’s words.)

Last month, I shared how Meera had to have a painful, life saving, face altering surgery. Surgery day was yesterday. I couldn’t make it up yesterday, but was glad it worked out to see the family at Sick Kids today.

I’ll be honest – as Laura so candidly is…. it’s tough on the family. As they wrestle with a daughter that doesn’t look now like the daughter they’ve known for the last 3years. Yes – it will potentially save her life, can be reconstructed (after chemo) and is only on the surface… but let’s be honest, it’s tough.

When I walked in the room I had prepared myself for a shock – but I didn’t really face one. Actually – what surprised me most was how little and fragile she looked. Sometimes I forget how little and young Miss Meera is as she is forced to be wise beyond her years. Meera is still on a high dose of morphine so was sleeping the majority of the time – and when she wasn’t, she was groggy.

Meera’s family has asked to not post photos of her face yet as they are still adjusting to the changes. I was able to capture something more beautiful than any face though. True love. Courage. Compassion. Things no surgeon can take away. No disease can rob.

This family’s love and strength is always an inspiration to me and to many.

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Laura’s dad and mom were both there which was great!

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Bravery beads are beads that are given individually each time a “procedure” or something happens at the hospital. Being admitted. Surgery. Bloodwork. Scans. etc. Meera’s family counted over 600 beads. That’s almost a bead a day since this nightmare began.

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ANd Miss Ameena also needs love and attention – so nice Laura’s mom was able to be there to offer a much needed hand! Poor Laura has one girl who’s had major surgery crying for cuddles from mom, and one girl who’s crying to be nursed and loved by mom.

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Meera – I love you. Your personality can’t be contained by any face. You have something far more beautiful than can be defined by a nose or mouth.

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From here… Meera will likely have some reconstructive surgery after her chemo – or there was talk she might have to wait a few years. Time will tell!

I must add a personal note at the end. I have been blown away by the incredible support of friends, family and even perfect strangers to this family. Every day on Facebook or Twitter I see someone else donating a portion of sales, or an auction or other creative ways to do something special for them. I’ll just highlight one special group.

A recent bride I photographed, had a friend over and was showing to him her photos on my website… which lead to her telling him about Meera. Like everyone – he was moved and wanted to do something. He is a musical theatre student at Sheridan College – and got the guys in his college program to donate their Mo’vember funds to Meera’s family. They call themselves “The Knights of Princess Meera” (look them up on Facebook!). Then the female students chimed in they wanted to participate too! And some of them are going makeup free and there was even talks of drawing on moustaches… to raise support of Meera. A group of college students, who have never met this young girl are sharing her story through social media and sending her love daily. Overnight the group seemed to go from zero to almost 400. Incredible.

If you are interested in donating to support Meera and her family you can do so HERE.

Celebrating life and love,