Make-A-Wish Sends Carpinterian Eliana McVee to Paris

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by Megan Waldrep

First published in the Coastal View News, June 2019

Mom, hold the phone please,Eliana Georges said. Ellie, her mom Samantha, and I were in the middle of a FaceTime interview. But our virtual meet-up turned into a dance party after asking Ellie her favorite song. Currently, its Old Town Road, so Ellie got up from an outdoor chair on Linden Avenue, and giggled through a few dance moves before returning to her seat.

Ellies joie de vivre could come from the fact that shes endured more than most people will in a lifetime. At four and a half months old, Ellie had a stroke and was diagnosed with a tumor found in her brain. It was then she became a patient of Childrens Hospital Los Angeles and after a surgery that took out one-third of a golfball-sized tumor and twenty-two months of chemo her health improved for five years before falling into a three-week coma on Thanksgiving day in 2016. When Ellie awoke, then seven years old, she began relearning how to sit upright, talk, walk, and feed herself again. We were in such a desperate and what felt like a hopeless situation,Ellies mom Samantha said. The best thing the doctors said was, Just let her know youre there and give her your love.And that exactly what we did.By Ellies side sat her family, friends, and her dog, Coco. I really believe,Samantha said, that love is the most powerful thing.

Speaking with Ellie, youd never know the health challenges shes endured. At the time of this interview, ten-year-old Ellie was excited for school to be out for the summer (shell be a fifth-grader at Canalino Elementary School in the fall) and had just finished a scoop of her favorite Roris ice cream, Nutella. Ellies amazing,her mother Samantha says. Every time she meets someone, she finds something to compliment them on and gives them little words of wisdom.This was evident when Ellie was asked, how do you find courage when youre feeling afraid? She paused for a moment then said, Take some deep breaths, pray to God, and just know that your mommy and daddy are with you and they will always love you even though you are going through a tough time.

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Ellie and her family recently returned from a trip to Paris, France, gifted by the Make-A-Wish Foundation. When asked her favorite part, she said it was having lunch at the top of the Eiffel Tower and the funniest part had to do with her dad. My dad is really scared of heights,Ellie said, giggling. There were glass parts on the (observation deck) that you can see to the bottom and he was scared to get close to the edge.While Ellies dad panicked for her safety, Ellie cracked up laughing. Shes brave,Samantha said. She really thought it was fun to see all the people walking underneath!” 

Although there are still a few health concerns, Samantha says shes grateful for everything theyve been through, excited for the future, and enjoying life by taking it day by day. I was just telling Ellie that when you reach to the top of the mountain, its important to turn around and extend your hand to those that are coming behind you,Samantha said. The best thing, for me personally, is to turn that pain into purpose. And helping others is the greatest way to do that.Samantha even started a walk to raise money for pediatric cancer research in 2012. It ran for three years before the organization restructured. Weve always been involved with different non-profits that help us, so we give back,Samantha says. Especially after being on The Ellen DeGeneres Show and being gifted so much that we werent expecting. We find different ways every day to pay it forward.(You may have caught Ellie and Samantha on Ellen last fall. As Ellie described to Ellen her experience of dancing with singer/songwriter Pharrell Williams on stage at a Childrens Hospital of Los Angeles benefit, Pharrell was backstage, waiting to surprise Ellie again.)

When asked if Ellie had a message for her neighbors of Carpinteria, she smiled. Just remember to take deep breaths, pray to God, stay safe, and always be kind.

Coastal View News

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