9-year-old Greensburg girl transforms into princess for day
Transported like the princess-for-a-day she wished to be, 9-year-old Kaeleigh Beregi arrived at Ferrante's Lakeview in Hempfield on Sunday in a horse-drawn carriage.
Dressed in a frilly white gown, her blonde hair in ringlets and topped with a tiara, Kaeleigh was greeted by costumed ballerinas and Disney princess characters.
The occasion was the fulfillment of a dream for Kaeleigh, granted by White Oak-based nonprofit Jamie's Dream Team.
Diagnosed with neuroblastoma at age 2, Kaeleigh conquered cancer and a subsequent brain tumor, said her mother, Laura Beregi of Greensburg.
In May 2011, she said, her daughter relapsed.
Escorted to a golden throne at the head table, Kaeleigh clung to her mother at first.
“If it sparkles, shines, glimmers, she loves it. The (carriage) ride was beautiful. She is a little overwhelmed at all of the attention,” Beregi said.
“This is absolutely fantastic. It's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen,” she said, as she looked around the room.
Kaeleigh's father, Tony Beregi of Harrison City, agreed.
“I can't believe it. They did such an amazing job, in such a short amount of time. They did great. I can't thank them enough,” he said.
Family members and friends arrived dressed in a rainbow of ball gowns and formal suits. Several of the men donned top hats for the event.
Inside the banquet hall, the colors pink and purple ruled, from the balloons and streamers to a cake shaped like a castle.
Clowns twisted balloons into animals for delighted youngsters, who eagerly eyed up a table lined with bowls and bowls of candy.
The day's entertainment was scheduled to include a performance from Greensburg's Laurel Ballet.
In addition, Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre donated a pair of ballet slippers to Kaeleigh.
Amanda Wagner, Kaeleigh's godmother, originally established a fundraising website for the event.
“I wanted to celebrate her life. I wanted everyone to celebrate with her and give her the ball she deserves,” Wagner said.
In just a few weeks in February, the site raised $2,500.
When Wagner got in touch with the American Cancer Society to help with finding a venue, she was contacted by Jamie's Dream Team founder Jamie Holmes.
“They told me to keep that money and give it to the family,” Wagner said.
Holmes, 25, founded her charity in 2005. It is dedicated to making dreams come true for the terminally ill and injured.
Born with the rare disorder VATER Syndrome, which causes congenital abnormalities of the vertebrae, lower intestine, trachea, esophagus and kidneys, Holmes has made helping others her life's passion.
The charity has granted more than 400 wishes, from providing needy families with gift cards to arranging meetings with celebrities and athletes to planning trips to Disney World.
Dressed in a red gown, Holmes said Sunday's wish was one of the larger dreams her charity has granted.
“This is what Kaeleigh wanted,” she said.
Mary Pickels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-5401 or firstname.lastname@example.org.