Newton Elementary honours Aniva
Aniva Shaji liked to swim and ride horses and couldn't resist a good book.
The petite girl with the dark hair and big brown eyes always had a smile at the ready – a quality that didn't go unnoticed.
"She was very optimistic about life," said student Gurtej Jaswal during an assembly at Newton Elementary on Wednesday. "She was a very good friend."
About four years ago, Aniva's health began to deteriorate due to a degenerative muscle disorder.
But Aniva (left) didn't waste her time whining or grumbling. She continued living her life to the fullest, having snowball fights and visiting the swimming pool and travelling with her family.
"She couldn't stand the pain, but she never complained," said her father.
As her condition worsened, Make-A-Wish Foundation contacted Aniva and asked if there was a wish she would like to see come true.
Many children request – and are often granted – wishes such as exotic trips or fancy bedroom makeovers or meeting their favourite celebrities. But not Aniva. She simply wanted her own laptop.
Make-A-Wish granted her request the same day.
"She was a very simple and humble person and she never asked for very many things because she was happy with her life," said Ansu Shaji, Aniva's sister (below).
The 21-year-old said her youngest sibling taught her a lot.
"It's not about how long we have lived, but how much we have lived," said Ansu.
Aniva passed away last October, prior to her 14th birthday. She had just started Grade 7 at Newton Elementary.
On Wednesday, the Surrey school honoured Aniva by kicking off a fundraising campaign to benefit Make-A-Wish, whose mission it is to grant requests of children with life-threatening medical conditions.
Funds will be raised through the sale of light-up star necklaces ($5) at the school, as well as a popcorn sale next month.
As well, every child in the school was sent home with a blue star piggy bank to save coins for the next three months. All the money collected at the school by June will go toward granting the wishes of children.
Aniva, said her sister, always thought of others and was an inspiration.
"She was so caring and loving and full of energy," said Ansu. "She gives me hope and faith. She was the best sister anyone could have asked for."