At age 13, Ellery noticed pain in her shoulder during a swim meet. Within a week, the pain spread to the rest of her joints, but she attributed it to her active lifestyle and continued to treat it with Ibuprofen.
“Then it hurt to walk,” Ellery said. “I was really sore all over, like I had just worked out really hard.”
The pain became unbearable. Ellery could not sleep, had trouble moving, and lost her appetite. Her local hospital sent her to the Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters in Norfolk, VA, for blood tests. The next day, she was diagnosed with a very rare, high-risk form of leukemia.
Ellery was immediately admitted to the hospital and spent the next six months undergoing intense chemotherapy. She missed two years of school, but managed to keep up with her academics through homeschooling and even stayed on her high school swim team.
After three and a half years of treatment, Ellery was finally in remission and ready to start a new chapter in her life. She wished for a full red-carpet, celebrity shopping experience in New York City.
“All of my clothes either didn’t fit me or were associated with bad memories of being in the hospital,” Ellery said.
The wish began with a send-off party hosted by Holland’s Jewelers in Apex, a member of Jewelers for Children, a national foundation that unites the jewelry industry to support children in need. Ellery received a gift card to spend in the store and picked out several pieces of jewelry.
After the party, Ellery and her family set out for the Big Apple in a private chartered flight courtesy of Lord Corporation. The jet was stocked with Ellery’s favorite snacks and included a personalized hair and make-up session by celebrity blogger Kate Bryan. But the VIP treatment did not stop there. On Ellery’s second day in New York, a limo picked her up at her hotel and drove her around the city for her shopping spree. She hit all the major stores including Sephora, Nike, Victoria’s Secret and Macy’s, where her personal shopper helped her pick out several dresses and bathing suits.
“Everyone who helped me was so kind and attentive,” Ellery said. “I usually don’t like trying on lots of clothes but they all made it so much fun for me.”
That night, Ellery and her family went to dinner at Scarpetta, a five-star restaurant owned by one of Ellery’s favorite Food Network chefs, Scott Conant. They received a special treatment that included complimentary courses, a copy of Conant’s cookbook and a goodie bag for Ellery. Ellery spent the rest of her time in New York exploring the city with her family.
“It all came together in a way that was more than I could have ever dreamed,” Ellery said. “The wish was not only a celebration of the end of my treatment, but also the end of a long journey for the entire family.”