The Little Mermaid-themed tree is now on display at Mission Hill Estate Winery. (Wes Rota)

Kelowna family decorates tree for daughter who died after battle with cancer

Ruby Rota’s Disney-themed tree will also raise funds for the BC Children’s Hospital

A Kelowna family is raising funds for the BC Children’s Hospital through their Disney-themed tree.

The Rota family has been decorating a Christmas tree at Mission Hill Estate Winery’s Festival of Trees for the last three years in an effort to raise funds for the hospital that took care of their daughter Ruby as she fought against a rare form of cancer.

Ruby Rota was seven years old when she passed away in 2017 due to diffuse intrinsic pontine glioma (DPG), a type of brain tumour found in the brainstem. Ruby’s father Wes Rota said her medical team did all they could but as the tumour was in the core of her brain, there was little they could do for her.

He said she was a brave girl.

“She was your typical little kid,” he said.

“She was super caring, inclusive, and had a great laugh and smile. Everybody just seemed to really love her.”

Wes said after she passed away, the family wanted to give back to the BC Children’s Hospital after all their efforts in helping Ruby.

“We’ve sponsored a tree for the last three years and we plan on doing it for the rest of our lives.”

“We picked a Disney theme in the beginning and I think we’ll probably stick with that for the rest of our lives as well because we think it brings a little extra magic and joy to people,” he said.

He added that they want people to feel happy when they see the tree decorated in honour of Ruby, especially during these difficult pandemic times.

He said initially, they wanted to raise $5,000 for BC Children’s but ended up changing the goal to $10,000 after seeing how generous the community was.

“We’re hoping for $10,000 but it looks like we’re probably going to surpass that, based on the amount of donations we’ve had so early into the campaign,” he said.

Wes said they want to thank those who have already donated and are inviting those who can donate to do so.

“You never know when something like this could happen to somebody you know or yourself or your kids or anything like that, so it’s important to support such a great cause.”

To donate in memory of Ruby Rota and to see pictures of her Little Mermaid tree, visit the family’s fundraising page. You can donate until Jan. 3, 2021.


Twila Amato
Video journalist, Black Press Okanagan
Email me at twila.amato@blackpress.ca
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