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story.lead_photo.caption Helias Catholic High School student Olivia Garnett, right, helps Brynnlee Asel, 6, with a crafts project during Sunday's fourth annual Princess Party, held this year at the Wardsville Lions Club. Photo by Gerry Tritz / News Tribune.

Young princesses filled the Wardsville Lions Club to get pampered at Sunday's fourth annual Princess Party, a Relay for Life fundraiser.

The girls were all smiles as they chatted with older princesses played by volunteers from Helias Catholic High School. They also enjoyed lunch, played games, worked on arts and crafts, and painted with instructors. After getting their hair and nails and makeup done, they also got photos of themselves.

Nicole Backes and her 4-year-old daughter, Natalie, drove from their hometown in Frankenstein to attend the Princess Party.

The event is a Relay for Life fundraiser, which raises money for the American Cancer Society.

"My daughter loves princesses and these girls who come and dress up as princesses, they do an amazing job with the kids and make them all feel welcome," Nicole Backes said.

She said the event is even more special to her because her husband has had cancer.

"Especially during this wonderful time of stress, it's really good to just be able to come and be a princess and think the world is magical," she said. "We definitely need a little more magic in the world."

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This was the second year for Olivia Garrett, a student at the University of Missouri in Columbia, to serve as a volunteer older princess.

"I love helping out and being with the girls and helping the community," she said. "I love seeing the girls, how happy they get. They get so excited."

One of the organizers, Emily Koenigsfeld, is team captain of Angels of Hope, the Relay for Life team that sponsors the Princess Party.

She and a friend saw similar events happening in other cities and decided to adopt the idea.

She said 68 girls signed up for the event, 32 in the "exclusive" Princess Party held 10 a.m.-noon and 36 in the 1-3 p.m. session.

The regular session cost $20 and the exclusive session, which included lunch, a gift and painting with an instructor, cost $50.

Koenigsfeld said she hoped to raise $1,500 this year. That's half that of other years, she said, but attendance was down possibly because of the coronavirus and new location. The event had been postponed from March.

Even with fewer in attendance, the event was a success, she said.

"The little girls who come, to see them light up, it's so worth it," she said.

This article was edited at 10:30 a.m. July 20, 2020, to correct the spelling of Olivia Garrett's name and correct the name of the school where the former Helias Catholic High School student is currently attending.

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