EAGLE, Idaho — In October, we brought you the story of Claire Elliott of Eagle. Claire was just 9-years-old when she died from a deadly brain tumor called Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG). The Treasure Valley community rallied around this little girl and made her feel special until the day she passed. Now, her mother created a Facebook page called Sunshine for Claire, which has already attracted thousands of followers.
"I know one thing she always struggled with was because of all the steroids and the treatment it really affected her appearance, and one of the things that really special to her was when people would come up to her and say, 'Claire, you are beautiful,'" Claire's mom, Annie Elliott, said.
Annie knew how much her daughter loved the holidays, and wanted to give her an early Christmas because her condition was worsening. Friends in Eagle planned a special Christmas for Claire event for early November, but sadly, Claire passed before she could enjoy the big celebration.
The last few months have been really difficult for Claire's family, and her mom has been swimming in grief.
"I couldn't get out of bed, and everything was so heavy that I couldn't even move," Annie said. "I feel like it's everywhere, every single time you breathe you feel grief and it's never going to go away because there is a hole inside your heart that is never going to get filled again."
Annie's house is filled with Claire's photos and memories, and that brings her a lot of comfort. But, during this time of grief, she has accomplished something huge. Something that is helping her get through those lonely and painful days.
"I decided that I want to keep Claire's memory alive by starting a nonprofit for her. It's the Sunshine for Claire Foundation," the mom told us through tears. "We are officially an IRS exempt 501c3 so I'm really excited about that."
She plans to put together care packages for cancer warriors like Claire and for their families.
"When we started getting gifts from the entire community and from the entire nation, we started putting them in her room, almost everything you see here is brand new it's never been played with, she just never had that opportunity," Annie said. "I will be using a lot of the items that got donated to us, so a child will have a chance to play with these things."
Annie also wants to help families with a new diagnosis of cancer for their child navigate the overwhelming and stressful process.
"You are given this diagnosis, and you're given this list of resources, and then you have to go to so many different websites to get the services that you need at home," Annie said. "I want to do that for the families so they can just focus on taking care of their kids."
The Sunshine for Claire headline event is planned for May, it's called The Gold Run, and the whole community is invited. May 17 is DIPG Day in Idaho, which helps raise awareness of this deadly form of cancer.
Annie has organized a 5k fun run to raise money for Claire's foundation. She decided to have it on Saturday, May 16.
"It's a 5k and a one mile run for kids, it will be at Reed Merrill park and it's a beautiful down and back on the Green Belt. For the kids it's a loop," Annie said. "We are calling it The Gold Run because gold is the color of the childhood cancer ribbon. We're encouraging everyone to come dressed in gold, and if you can bring something that can go in our care packages, bring a bottle of shampoo or a charger or a power pack, bring something that we can give these families to use when they are rushing off to the hospital."
The Eagle mom misses her daughter so much, but creating this foundation has brought her some much-needed peace.
"Whenever I started working on the foundation I felt closer to Claire. I knew that this was something that was going to make her happy, and little by little it filled my heart, and I knew that this was the right path and that this was something that we were going to do together. Her from Heaven and me right here," Annie explained. "I so want to give back to this community and I so want to be a part of it."
If you want to be a part of Annie's effort, you can sign up for The Gold Run right now. Here's more information on The Sunshine for Claire Pediatric Cancer Foundation, and registration for the May 16 event.
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