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The royal treatment

McKenna Martindale likes the colors blue and green. That's why when she got her hair done at Nivala and Company Salon on Sunday morning she had them spray those colors in her hair.

Later ,when her mom, Julie, asked if she felt pretty McKenna smiled, crinkled her nose and said yes. McKenna, Julie and sister Hope enjoyed a day of beauty at Nivala as part of the Starlight Starbright Children's Foundation Great Escapes program along with 17 other girls and their mothers.

Starlight improves the lives of ill or disabled children and their families through entertainment, education and family activities. The foundation, which is fairly new to the Twin Cities, started in Los Angeles more than 20 years ago.

Three years ago a branch of Starlight started in the greater Minneapolis/ St. Paul area and has helped hundreds of families cope.

"It's been quietly growing," said Minnesota Great Escapes coordinator Maura Trout.

The foundation is not disease specific, Trout said, so it serves all families who need their services.

Hospitals refer eligible kids to the foundation. Through its programs the foundation strives to provide kids and families comfort and fun which can be hard to come by when dealing with health issues.

To do that, Trout said the the foundation hosts a variety of events such as visiting museums, trips to the zoo and attending athletic events. The events are completely planned and paid for by Starlight.

"Anything that's fun," Trout said.

Wanting to do something for Mother's Day , Trout said she thought a spa day would be fun for the girls involved with the foundation and their mothers. So she put an advertisement on to find a salon that might be interested in helping.

Sara Nivala, owner of the Rosemount salon, saw the ad and gave Trout a call.

"I found it online and thought it sounded fun," said Nivala.

With the help of her employees Nivala put together an event for the girls that included getting a hairdo, a manicure and a pedicure. All the employees at Nivala donated their time and services for the event.

"It didn't feel like that much work because it was fun and it was totally worth it," said Nivala.

While curling McKenna's hair, Nivala explained why she and her employees donated their time to plan and work the event.

"We feel blessed to be in such a good community and we want to support it," said Nivala.

All the girls and moms seemed to enjoy themselves throughout the morning. Hope said she enjoyed eating the smoothies that were served. She tried both flavors - mango and strawberry.

"My favorite part is the smoothies," Hope said as she took another spoonful of the frozen fruity concoction.

A pink- and green-haired Hana France couldn't decide what she liked the best.

"It was all fun," she said while letting her freshly painted nails dry.

The Martindale family has attended several of the Great Escape events put on by Starlight. Julie, a mother of eight, said she appreciates what the foundation does for her family and others.

"The kids feel like they're being treated so special and they are so excited," she said.

Starlight is volunteer organization. Trout is the only person on staff in Minnesota. To get involved with or for more information on the Starlight Starbright Children's Foundation visit on the Internet or call 612-991-4258.