Va. 4th grader succeeds in her effort to help sick kids

WASHINGTON – A few weeks ago, a Loudoun County fourth-grader, Gabriella Miller, initiated an effort to help children facing life- threatening illnesses.

Now, Miller’s project is being measured, and her kindness and determination could potentially help make a lot of sick children happier.

Miller, herself, was recently diagnosed with an inoperable tumor on her brain stem. The little girl, who is almost 10, complained of headaches and blurry vision prior to her diagnosis.

Currently, she is undergoing arduous radiation and chemotherapy at Children’s National Medical Center, a process that has zapped a lot of her energy.

Miller was told she qualified for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. To fulfill her dreams of seeing the Eiffel Tower and the Mona Lisa, she chose a trip to Paris, a vacation she plans on taking after her chemo and radiation ends in January.

The news of her trip partially shifted Miller’s focus from her recovery efforts to helping other children.

Miller’s mother Ellyn saw a full-page Macy’s store ad.

Holding up the issue of The Washington Post, Ellyn displayed Macy’s promise the company would donate $1 million to the Make-A-Wish Foundation if the company received one million letters to Santa Claus before Christmas.

Miller decided to help achieve that promise. She set a goal of contributing 10,000 letters, and after that target was met, upped her goal to 50,000.

With local and national news coverage, including NBC’s “TODAY Show” and Internet postings, Miller has exceeded her goal. Her supporters have written well over 150,000 letters, and the little girl’s hero, singer Selena Gomez, even hand- delivered a personal letter.

Family friend Chris Croll organized the effort. The final count of letters will be revealed at the Macy’s in Dulles Town Center on Sunday, Dec. 23 at 2 p.m.

WTOP’s Neal Augenstein contributed to this report. Follow @AugensteinWTOP and


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