By Kylie Bearse

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — St. Cloud throws its biggest fundraiser of the year every December: The Holly Ball. It benefits hospice and cancer care in central Minnesota

It doesn’t look like most galas. The entire community comes together, including dozens of young St. Cloud dancers from Ms. Melinda’s dance studio.

But this year, the Holly Ball has taken on a new meaning for two of those dancers who lost their mom to cancer last spring.

The Holly Ball isn’t just one of St. Cloud’s biggest fundraisers, it’s one of the most important performances for Ms. Melinda’s Dancers.

“It gets more beautiful and wonderful every year,” said Sarah Pille. “Every year I go I’m just like, how did they top last year.”

Anna and Sarah Pille have been dancing at the Holly Ball for years.

“When we started, we were fairies,” said Anna.

For these sisters, dancing is more than just a hobby.

“It’s kind of how I express who I am,” said Sarah. “It’s how I tell my story.”

The studio, feels more like a home. Fellow dancers have become family.

“Those are my strongest relationships with people,” said Anna.

Last spring the unimaginable happened: Anna and Sarah’s mom lost her battle with cancer.

“When we learned she passed, I was in ballet,” said Sarah.

Without hesitation, their dance family was there.

“We all hugged it made me feel so grateful that I had all these people around me,” said Sarah. “Not only the girls there, the parents the teachers. They were like band aids on my cuts.”

For Anna and Sarah, dancing became a way to heal.

“I feel like it was kind of my therapy,” said Sarah.

The Holly Ball fundraises for the very cancer center that helped Anna and Sarah’s mom: Centracare.

This year Anna and Sarah are putting together a special dance in her honor.

“I think that it’s special,” said Sarah. “It’s not like any other dance.”

“She’ll never be forgotten,” said Anna. “It just shows how much that we know that she’s still in our hearts.”

The Holly Ball is coming up this Saturday, December 2 in St. Cloud.

Over the past four decades, this event alone has raised more than $7.5 million for CentraCare Health Hospice and Coborn Cancer Center Greatest Needs Funds.

The dinner room is sold out, but there are still limited main event tickets on sale, call the CentraCare Health Foundation office at 320-240-2810.

If you’d like to donate, click here.

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