She was enjoying her 12th birthday party when Sheliza started having a severe allergic reaction that landed her in the hospital. She was saddened by how the celebration went wrong, but she learned an important lesson that night. “My parents said that I was even lucky to have a birthday, and there were children around the world who didn't get to celebrate their birthdays because they live in low-income families,” Sheliza recalls. “I decided I was going to celebrate my birthday in ‘giving style’ from then on.” For the next several birthdays, she got up at 6:00 am and went to the local homeless shelters in Calgary to help serve breakfast. Helping at the shelters opened her eyes to the struggles homeless kids and families face and realized there was little opportunity for these families to meet and socialize. “So my mind was thinking, what could I do to bring these families together?” Sheliza recounts. “And the idea came to me! A birthday party is something that is so significant in a child's life and often times brings people of diverse backgrounds together.”
Sheliza created Children's Birthday Miracles (CBM) in 2013 at the ripe age of sixteen. The charitable organization hosts monthly birthday parties for underprivileged kids, providing everything from presents and cake to dress-up characters and goody bags. Most of Sheliza's parties are held in homeless shelters across four major cities in Canada, but CBM has also held celebrations for cancer patients in hospitals. In fact, the charity has served more than 4,000 children worldwide since its inception four years ago. Sheliza says they have celebrated kids from two-week-old babies to eighteen-year-old adult children, impacting not only the child but the entire family.