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Loudoun County 10-year-old cancer philanthropist dies after battle with brain tumor

Monday - 10/28/2013, 8:43am  ET

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Gabriella Miller died Sunday night after a nearly yearlong battle with an inoperable brain tumor. (Courtesy of the Miller family)

WASHINGTON - A 10-year-old Loudoun County girl who turned her inoperable brain tumor into a crusade for childhood cancer research died Sunday.

Gabriella Miller, who had been diagnosed with an inoperable tumor on her brain stem about a year ago, led an effort to help the Make-A-Wish Foundation and raised more than $275,000 in the process, according to The Washington Post. She died peacefully at her Loudoun County home, her family posted on her Make a Wish with Gabriella Facebook page.

"It is with the heaviest of hearts and the greatest of love that we share the news that our daughter Gabriella passed away last night ... Thank you for loving our daughter and for all of your support," the Facebook post says.

The family is holding a public memorial service for Gabriella 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Heritage High School in Leesburg.

Shortly after Gabriella's diagnosis, a Macy's ad drew her attention. The ad said that the department store would donate $1 million to the Make-A-Wish Foundation if the company received 1 million letters to Santa Claus. The selfless girl set a goal to contribute 10,000 letters.

Her effort quickly drew online attention and local support. The family along with family friend and marketing professional Christina Croll, set up a Facebook page to support her.

Gabriella delivered nearly 241,000 letters to her local Macy's store preceding Christmas 2012, according to The Washington Post. More than 250,000 letters were sent in separately on her behalf. Miller helped raise more than $275,000 for the foundation through her campaign.

Gabriella herself qualified for the Make-A-Wish Foundation and took a trip to Paris with her family in May.

The last few weeks had been difficult for the Miller family who said on the Facebook page that Gabriella was not able to move or talk leading up to her death. On Saturday she went into a "coma-like sleep" and was "very comfortable" before her death Sunday night, the family writes.

Gabriella's tissue will be donated for research purposes, according to the Facebook page.

After her death, friends and family are calling for others to channel Gabriella's spirit of altruism.

"Now I ask you, on behalf of our Sweet G, please help. Do something, anything, in honor of Gabriella so that other children, their family & their friends don't have to go through what we have & are going through," the Facebook post says.

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