CALGARY – Miss Universe Canada Riza Santos took time off from her busy schedule to raise funds for a young girl's operation in the Philippines.
15-year-old Maria Fe is suffering from a life-threatening scoliosis, causing her spine to curve so much, damaging her lungs and heart.
An expensive surgery is needed to cure her illness.
Santos learned about the girl's plight thru Maria Fe's aunt and uncle during a visit to Vancouver.
"Were so glad that Riza have a heart, a big heart, to do this for us and praise the lord for it," said the girl's aunt, Delia Tumak.
A dinner-dance and fashion show entitled "Believe: An Inspirational Evening" was organized by Santos' mom and friends to support her bid for the Miss Universe 2013 crown.
But parts of the proceeds will go to Maria Fe's medical expenses.
"Thank God that there is a God who answered Maria Fe's prayers. To take away her life because nobody does anything is not acceptable as far as I'm concerned. So what's happening tonight is terrific," said the girl's uncle, Ben Tumak.
The event was attended by beauty queens, local politicians, Philippine government officials and other high-profile guests.
"We are here to share the joy, to promote bayanihan among all Filipinos," said Philippine Ambassador to Canada, Leslie Gatan.
The Fil-Canadian beauty was overwhelmed with the amazing support she got from the Filipino community.
"'Believe' was the inspirational theme. Believe in yourself and to become the best that you can be. And once you do that, you really have the ability to become the best that you are and it gives you more opportunity, affords you more resources that you can help other people, people like Maria Fe who really does need our support," Santos said.
Santos hopes that she continues to inspire others to help out people in need like Maria Fe.