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It's said nothing is more powerful than a mother's love.
But Sydney Waldman and Ruby Grinberg, both 11, are proving a daughter's love can be just as mighty.
Like most kids their age, Sydney and Ruby enjoy having sleepovers, listening to the newest music and hanging out with their friends. Unlike most kids, however, these best friends are a formidable fundraising powerhouse.
Together, they will be participating in the 4th annual Dance to Conquer Cancer (D2CC) on May 3, 2015. With a mutual love of dance, it's the ideal way for Sydney and Ruby to fight back against the disease that has so deeply impacted their families.
The fundraising event invites people of all ages to dance nonstop for a full afternoon in support of Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, one of the top five cancer research centres in the world.
'Elana didn't want cancer to define her'
With the opportunity to direct where their D2CC fundraising will go, Sydney and Ruby support the Elana Waldman Ovarian Cancer Research Program at the Princess Margaret. The program was named after Sydney's late mother, Elana, who passed away from ovarian cancer on June 4, 2013.
Elana was like a second mother to Ruby, whose own mother was diagnosed with cancer in 2015.
With their D2CC team, Elana's Voice, the two best friends will dance their hearts out in honour of their moms.
Elana Waldman was an exceptional woman.
After graduating from Osgoode Law School, Elana began a successful career in family law. Despite her busy hours, she agreed one day to go on a blind date with a man named Mark. Little did she know she was meeting the love of her life.
With dreams of having a large family, Elana and Mark welcomed Sydney in 2003 and began planning for their next child shortly after. But Elana was suddenly unable to conceive. After careful consideration, they decided that fertility treatments were their next step. It was through these treatments that her doctor found strange formations resembling cysts.
They turned out to be malignant tumours. Elana had stage III ovarian cancer.
Told that she had a 30 per cent chance of surviving only five years, Elana pushed through nearly eight incredible years with her loved ones supporting her all the way.
"She fought hard to be with me and my dad and to watch me grow," says Sydney, who carries her mother's fierce spirit with her to this day.
Known for her dynamic personality, Elana was an outspoken advocate for cancer research. Not only did she support The Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation, she also
blogged for Chatelaine magazine to spread ovarian cancer awareness and spark a conversation around a difficult subject.
With eloquent and candid words, Elana captured the attention, trust and support of readers across Canada.
At the same time, Elana didn't want cancer to define her. She was so much more than a cancer patient; she was a mother, wife, friend, sister, daughter, lawyer and confidante.
Sydney, Mark and Ruby are ensuring her full memory lives on.
Who are you dancing for?
In 2014, Elana's Voice raised more than $58,000 for the Elana Waldman Ovarian Cancer Research Program at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. Sydney and Ruby's goal is to raise $3 million in total. As of April 2015, Sydney has raised nearly $38,000 for the 2015 Dance to Conquer Cancer.
"I don't want any kids to have to go through what I did," says Sydney.
With support from determined cancer warriors like her, researchers at the Princess Margaret are working hard on delivering a future where no child ever will.
Dance to Conquer Cancer supporting Princess Margaret Cancer Centre will be held on Sunday, May 3, 2015 at Toronto Marriott Bloor Yorkville. To register or find out more, please visit