PEABODY (CBS) – A young Peabody girl who died of a brain tumor was remembered and honored Wednesday by family, friends and what has become known as “Ella’s Army.”
Ella O’Donnell died last year, one month before her 11th birthday.
On Wednesday, after incredible generosity, the community came together to dedicate a new playground in Ella’s honor.
Ella’s parents and older sister cut the ceremonial ribbon, and dedicated the South Memorial Playground in Peabody today as a lasting tribute.
Ella was a dancer, an inspiration and a tenacious fighter against the brain cancer that would eventually take her young life.
Today a statue of a ballerina was unveiled in her honor depicting grace, strength and soaring hope as Ella was remembered in poetry.
“We all celebrate Ella’s short life. Our beautiful angel taught us all how to give. We’ll keep Ella’s memory forever in our hearts. As we honor the life that she lived,” said Mary Skerry, reading a poem she wrote.
After her death people who knew Ella put their grief into action.
A remarkable $178,000 was raised by “Ella’s Army” to build the playground.
“It’s a bittersweet day for us. This playground is here because Ella is not,” says Ella’s mother, Erin O’Donnell. “But we can’t ignore all of the amazing things that people have done for us and the donations and contributions to make this playground a reality,” she adds.
“I think my sister would really like this playground, and I think she would enjoy that a bunch of kids are coming together in her name and this is a great way to remember her,” says Ella’s older sister, Sydney.
And as families enjoy the new facility, maybe they’ll stop for a moment and reflect on a young girl, gone too soon, but still alive in people’s hearts.
“We’re grateful because it will keep her memory and spirit alive,” says Erin O’Donnell. “And make people appreciate, ever day, how grateful it is just to be alive,” adds Ella’s father Dennis O’Donnell.
For more information visit the Prayers For Ella Facebook page.