By Nikki Fredrikson

The bond between a father and his little girl is unlike any other relationship. He’s her rock and she’s his little princess.

During the month of February, the Heart and Stroke Foundation will put on its third annual Father Daughter Winter Ball, an event celebrating this connection.

The Ball was partly inspired by the community of Kamloops’ two Heart Families.

Both Karter and Henry are under four years old and live with heart conditions. Both boys have sisters and according to Lisa Verity of the Heart and Stroke Foundation, it was their connection that partly inspired this event.

The Foundation wanted to do something special that could incorporate both families.

“Just seeing the importance of that family connection and that it was again another opportunity to be able to bring awareness to a demographic we sometimes are not able to reach,” said Verity.

For seven-year-old Makiya Thistlethwaite and her dad Erik, it’s an event that they look forward to attending every year.

“It helps raise money for Heart and Stroke. It’s time for me to spend with Makiya. It’s fun and we never get to just have daddy-daughter time; it’s one time a year that’s guaranteed I can always get off work,” said Thistlethwaite.

Makiya’s four-year- old brother Karter was born with a congenital heart defect and at eight days old had a pacemaker inserted. At six months old Karter went into heart failure and was diagnosed with dilated cardiomyopathy and put on a heart transplant waitlist. His condition causes his heart to not squeeze, with a heart block making his heart not pump properly.

“It’s a lot of stress and not knowing…” said Thistlethwaite.

The Father Daughter Winter Ball hosted by Hotel 540, is an opportunity for Makiya and Erik to spend the day together, where the focus can be all on Make

The Ball is a red carpet affair, which means the pair get dressed up, and Makiya gets pampered at the salon, having her hair and makeup done. For Makiya her favourite part of the event is that “we get to hang out.”

“When we leave, I always say, ‘Daddy, when are we going to go next?’ And he’s like, not until next year,” said Makiya.

The Ball is an evening of dancing, empowering speeches, candy, and games. Catering to what every little girl would imagine a ball would be. The young girls got a special surprise with local Miss Kamloops royalty and Disney Princesses in attendance at last year’s Ball.

“It’s so much fun and something for us to do together and it’s also great to raise money and awareness for Heart and Stroke. It’s also good for me to go talk to other dads who I know are in the same boat,” said Thistlethwaite.

This year’s Father Daughter Winter Ball has already sold out.

The fundraiser sells pairs of tickets for $40 dollars with all proceeds going towards the Heart and Stroke Foundation. For the Thistlethwaite family, the Ball is an annual event they wouldn’t miss as it is a fun night for girls and their father- gures to get dressed up and go out.

“Even if you don’t have Heart Kid, still go because it’s so much fun,”said Makiya. “If we weren’t special like we are, I’d still go.”

Along with the Father Daughter Winter Ball the Heart and Stroke Foundation holds many other events during heart month to raise funds and awareness. Events to note include: Family Day Blazers Game, Punch- A-Thon at Kix 4 Chix, Rob Medves memorial concert at Cactus Jacks and the Kaltire Bubble Ball tournament. For more information on events during heart month contact the Heart and Stroke Foundation at 250-372-3938.