Courageous Ellie’s battle inspired thousands

An Ourange County princess is now an angel.

After months of battling Pineoblastoma, a rare, malignant brain tumor, Ellie Blaine, 2, passed aware Sunday morning – leaving behind a legacy reached far beyond her Orange County home.

Ellie and her story have impacted thousands, both near and far. After her diagnosis in February, dozens of people donated so the family could have iPads to communicate since Ellie and father, Richard, traveled to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, TN for treatment while then 4-year-old Noah and pregnant mother Carly stayed home to welcome baby Sarah-Grace. When the family sold t-shirts supporting Ellie, sales surpassed their wildest dreams with more than 1,000 people donning pink, white and black “Princess Strong” tees. Students at Virginia Tech and George Mason University also got involved, donning pink and hosting events in support of the spunky and spirited toddler.

When Ellie’s cancer returned in early fall after having been eliminated in mid-summer, more than 1,500 people joined together to become “Ellie’s Elves,” a group created by breast cancer survivor Joni Kanazawa supporting the family through various donations.

Thursday, when news came that Ellie’s conditioned had worsened and Santa would be visiting early, Kanazawa, along with Amy Lafrance, created a Facebook event urging people to “light the night for Princess Ellie.” As of Sunday night, more than 2,000 people had joined, lightning candles for Ellie throughout the state, nation and even the world. Photos were posted of candles burning from as far away as Melbourne, Australia, Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, Costa Rica and more. The candles will continue to be lit until Christmas in memory of Ellie. Messages posted along with the photos send up prayers for the girl they refer to as a “God’s beautiful new angel,” expressing their love and support of the Blaine family and thanking them for sharing their story, remarking about how many lives it has impacted and even changed.

And perhaps Ellie’s biggest impact comes not in the adult lives she’s touched, but in those who are like her. In late-September, the Blaine family participated in the CureSearch Walk in Charlottesville, raising more than $3,000 for children’s cancer research. Last month, the family along with more than 150 “Princess Strong” team members, raised more than $25,000 for St. Jude through the organization’s Give Thanks Walk and, as part of a Blue Ridge Virtual Governor’s School project led by Ann Mohrmann, an additional approximately $4,000 was raised at Orange County Elementary School through a math-a-thon and yard sale. Children also performed a song for Ellie, created as part of a Kid Pan Alley concert.

“For children like Ellie, whose cancers are rare, there isn’t enough research,” Carly said last month about the Give Thanks Walk. “There is no medical cure for Ellie’s illness. Donating to St. Jude ensures that research will continue and one day there will be a cure.”

For Ellie, her cure has come. The message posted on Ellie’s Facebook page Sunday night said it all.

“It is with both sadness and joy that we tell you Ellie has passed away. At 9:45 this morning Ellie was with our Lord. Ellie is not resting in peace but instead living in eternity, with no pain, no disease, and no heartache. She’s trotting with God’s angels and cherubs amongst the presence or our Lord and our God. We feel pain. And we feel relief, emptiness and fullness – all of which you may feel now as well. Please be encouraged; I believe Paul said it best in Philippians 1:21, ‘For to me, to live is Christ, to die is gain.’ As Ellie lived, she surely fulfilled Christ’s work, and as she has died, she has gained her reward and the glory of heaven. We love you Ellie Marie.”