Ella’s Army comes together for a future without cancer

Ella O’Donnell was only 10 years old when she passed away from brain cancer. Her family remembers she made more of an impact on those around her in those short 10 years than most do in their whole lives.

During her treatment, Ella’s loyal community of family and friends rallied around her forming what they lovingly referred to as Ella’s Army. After she passed, Ella’s Army banded together to honor her memory. While learning about different ways to give back, Ella’s Army discovered The Imagine Display and immediately knew it would be the best place to honor Ella.

Located outside of Dana-Farber’s Jimmy Fund Clinic, The Imagine Display is a whimsical representation of Dana-Farber’s signature “bench to bedside” research model, as seen through the eyes of our youngest patients. It celebrates the diverse Dana-Farber community united by our commitment to a future without cancer.

“To us, The Imagine Display represents a world without cancer,” Ella’s mother, Erin, says. “Our world has changed as we struggle to live without Ella every single day. It was important for us to support the Jimmy Fund in her name because we hope that one day no child will be taken from cancer.”

When looking at all the items in the display—like stars in the sky, Boston landmarks, and elements on the periodic table—Ella’s Army ultimately made a git to name a hot air balloon, which has its own special sentiment. “When Ella was in treatment, she had the opportunity to throw the first pitch at Fenway Park before a Red Sox game,” Erin recalls. “The hot air balloon we named in her honor is placed right above Fenway Park, which makes this even more special.”

Today, Ella’s Army remains stronger than ever. Erin shares that Ella’s Army has become a nonprofit with its own mission to raise funds and awareness for pediatric cancer and families affected by it. In the last five years, Ella’s Army has raised over $200,000 and helped over 25 families. They’ve also made multiple research donations to Dana-Farber and the Jimmy Fund.

 “We’re honored to support Dana-Farber and the Jimmy Fund in memory of our Ella,” Erin says. 

Add your name, or that of a loved one, to The Imagine Display and join our commitment to defying cancer. Your donation will support The Dana-Farber Campaign, our ambitious, multi-year fundraising effort to prevent, treat, and defy cancer. The Dana-Farber Campaign will accelerate the Institute’s strategic priorities by supporting revolutionary science, extraordinary care, and exceptional expertise. As a community, we have the power to create a more hopeful, cancer-free future—in Boston and around the world. Together, we can defy cancer at every turn. Learn more about The Dana-Farber Campaign at DefyCancer.org.