Elena Semikina is a Godsend.
The former Miss Universe Canada stands over six-feet tall and yet continues to reach new heights with her latest initiative, Make Happy.
It’s a charity organization that will provide shelter, counselling as well as support to young people afflicted by cancer from around the world.
“At a time where most are balancing school, starting a career and discovering their path in life, some young adults are faced with a daunting diagnosis,” she said. “We strive to enhance the lives of young adults affected by cancer through support, education, and connecting other young adults and their loved ones with each other to share their empowering stories.”
The statuesque blonde who originally hails from Russia with a brief stopover in Moldova says her mission is inspired by the work of Miracle House in the United States, and admits the Herbie Fund, based in Toronto to bring children to Sick Children’s Hospital for life-saving surgery, was an influence.
“The Herbie Fund is pretty much my inspiration because what they do is bring people overseas and they save kids’ lives,” she said. “It’s more complicated but that is my goal, I want to bring kids who suffer from cancer from Eastern Europe or underdeveloped countries to Canada and raise funds for them.”
The roots of her philanthropy though can be traced back to her efforts as Miss Universe. She says 90 percent of her work was with charity organizations, in particular travelling to Nicaragua to support SOS Children’s Villages.
She shares her experience of two boys, no older than three-years-old, that looked alike but weren’t brothers.
“It sounds like such a cheesy story but I asked one of the boys if they were twins, if they were brothers … and he looked at me, kind of smirked, and he said through my national director, ‘We’re all brothers here’,” she said. “This little boy has this sense of community.
“It was such an emotion moment and it’s something so rewarding that nothing else in life makes you feel as good as that.”
When Semikina is not working miracles, she’s working out seven times a week, two hours a day.
“I love to push myself and see an improvement,” she said. “It’s kind of a challenge to compete with my own body but to be able to tell my body what to do and see the results.”
She’s coy though if she plans on working on a workout video.
Still, she’s working on a web presence for her charity Make Happy, targeting a house for patients as a long-term goal, but getting the foundation built.
And there’s plenty of optimism in Semikina’s voice.
“It’s all little building blocks, they’re coming together and a lot of opportunities are coming,” she said. “I just have to work really hard.