When she was 6 years old, Ella faced serious medical complications from a gastrointestinal illness. Confined to a room at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, she looked for creative ways to pass the time. One day, she decided to color a rainbow, but was sad to find there weren’t enough crayons for every child in the hospital. And the crayons that were available were all worn down.
Ella wished that every child could have their own box of crayons. This is when she came up with the idea for Help Me Color a Rainbow, a project with a mission to donate enough crayons so that every child in the hospital can have his or her very own box.
Ella started this project in October 2016. As of December 2017, she has donated 27,132 boxes of crayons. Now 8 years old, Ella’s new goal is to donate 1,000 boxes of crayons to every hospital in the United States and 5,000 boxes to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. With well over 200 hospitals in the nation, that’s about a quarter-million boxes of crayons.
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing “the crayon girl,” and here are some of her responses.
WISH: What is your favorite color? (Of course, I had to ask this question.)
WISH: If you could name a crayon, what would it look like and what would you call it?
Ella: It would be a shade of teal, and I would call it Teal-beautiful.
WISH: What’s your favorite part of Help Me Color a Rainbow?
Ella: Traveling to the hospitals and meeting some of the kids.
WISH: Are there any special stories you would like to share from your many crayon deliveries/donations? Maybe you were able to see the joy your donation brought to someone?
Ella: I think it’s cool that every hospital has something unique. When I delivered 5,000 boxes to St Jude’s in Memphis, I met a girl a year older than me who has been a patient at St Jude’s since she was 9 months old. She has retinoblastoma. It’s cancer in her eyes. So she has been blind since she was 9 months old. We played in the pool. It was fun playing Marco Polo. That was a game she could even play since you have to close your eyes anyway.
I also met a little boy who was 3 years old at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland. He was waiting in the lab for blood work, and I was allowed to give him a box. That was his very first box of crayons in his whole life. I thought that was really cool.
WISH: Who inspires you and why?
Ella: My mom and dad. They help me with pretty much everything. They always support me. I wouldn’t be able to do the crayons without them because I can’t drive yet. (She answered this one with giggles.)
WISH: If you could make one wish, what would it be?
Ella: I love horses and I horseback ride a lot. If I had one wish, it would be to own my own Gypsy Vanner horse. That’s my favorite breed. They are so pretty.
One thing is for certain: This compassionate young lady is a rainbow of hope, and this world is so much more beautiful because of her. Although Ella is feeling much better these days thanks to a gluten-free diet and medical care, she still has follow-up appointments at Rainbow Babies every few months. I’m sure when she visits, there are always enough crayons to color a rainbow.
If you would like to donate crayons, you can contact Ella through her Facebook page.