Ehlana's Story: A Gift of Hope

Ehlana's Story: A Gift of Hope

Childhood summers can be full of visits to the local pool, camping and bike rides. But for Grade 4 student Ehlana James, the summer of 2012 held something different. It was then that Ehlana decided she wanted to do something to celebrate her dear friend Samantha, who was undergoing treatment for a pediatric brain tumour.

Ehlana and Samantha first met at a family Halloween party and became fast friends. Though living cities apart, the two youngsters didn’t let distance disrupt their friendship. Video chats through Skype and making sure to go to each other’s parties helped. “We laughed a lot together,” recalls Ehlana. They shared a favourite colour (Green), and a motto: “STRONG TOGETHER!” As Ehlana saw Samantha go through her diagnosis and treatment, she was driven to help those affected by a brain tumour in some way. “I wanted to do something in Samantha’s honour,” Ehlana explains simply.

So Ehlana and her mother Lanetta took to the internet, to research fundraising activities they could tackle while spending summer weekends at their local trailer park resort. A bottle drive was the winning idea and the family began rounding up empty beer and wine bottles from everyone they could, even extending the drive beyond the resort to their Kitchener, ON neighbourhood.  Soon Waterloo and Hamilton area businesses joined in, encouraging their employees to contribute bottles. Trips to return the empty bottles to The Beer Store proved fruitful as the original goal of $1,000 was quickly surpassed. “We were blown away by the generosity of others,” says Lanetta. “So much so, we ended up setting a second goal of $5,000!” Come October 2012, that second goal was bested too.

Ehlana raised more than $6,100 through her bottle drive, which she donated to Brain Tumour Foundation of Canada to support patients through initiatives like the pediatric and family support program, BrainWAVE. She also hopes that the dollars will help find a cure for the disease.

Sadly, Samantha passed away in September after a two-year battle with brain tumours. Ehlana continues to honour her friend’s memory by collecting toys and fundraising for hospitals. She also reaches out to other children on the journey with a brain tumour because she knows all too well, the impact of the disease.

Ehlana and her family share their story in hopes of inspiring others to make a difference in the lives of brain tumour patients and survivors.

Without your support and efforts, dedicated help for the 55,000 Canadians living with a brain tumour would not be possible. Learn how you can contribute to the vision to find the cause of and cure for brain tumours.

Story posted: December 2012

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