Savannah has been dancing since she was three years old. It was also at that same age that her parents were given devastating news; Savannah had Cystic Fibrosis. Fast forward to the present and 15 year old Savannah isn’t willing to let her illness keep her from pursuing her dream; dance. Cystic Fibrosis is a debilitating illness that causes excess mucus to collect in the lungs, making each breath a struggle. It also causes extensive problems with digestion, and requires taking enzymes to be able to digest every bite of food consumed.
Savannah is no stranger to a rattling cough, lung infections and takes 20 pills a day to help with digestion. For her, she simply does what needs to be done so she can pursue her dream of being a professional dancer. A lover of all types of dance, it was through a class project where students were asked to research a Canadian figure that Savannah discovered dance legend Karen Kain. The more she learnt about her and her commitment to ballet, the more Savannah’s passion for dance grew as well. It was no surprise to family and friends that when asked what her most heartfelt wish was that Savannah wanted nothing more than to meet the Artistic Director for the National Ballet of Canada, Karen Kain. Speaking of her idol, in a letter to the Foundation, Savannah wrote: “Discovering what you have done made me realize how much I wanted to do the same thing. You inspire me to be the best dancer I can be.”
With the help of supporters from the National Ballet of Canada, Alberta Ballet, Canada’s National Ballet School and an anonymous supporter of the Foundation, Savannah’s biggest wish became reality. While the National Ballet of Canada and Karen Kain were in Calgary for the 60th Anniversary Tour performance, Savannah and family had the opportunity to watch the performance from the Dress Circle, watch a company class and rehearsal and spend a relaxing weekend together at the Palliser Hotel. The piece de resistance of Savannah’s wish experience was meeting Karen Kain and presenting her with a dozen blue roses, the flower most often associated with Cystic Fibrosis.
Savannah, now only a few years away from graduating high school is already plotting her future career as a professional dancer. “Maybe I’ll go to New York or maybe Los Angeles…I’ll work on a cruise ship if I have to, anything to be on stage!”
Pictured above from L to R: Principal Dancer Sonia Rodriguez, Karen Kain - Artistic Director, National Ballet of Canada, Savannah - wish recipient, and Principal Dancer Heather Ogden.