Moms of the Year: Ellyn Miller

Mom to Jake, age 8 and Gabriella

Leesburg, VA

Nominated by Christina Croll:

Ellyn Miller demonstrates that a mother’s love never dies…even after a child leaves this earth. A little over two years ago, Ellyn lost her 10-year-old daughter Gabriella to brain cancer. Ellyn works tirelessly with the support of her husband, Mark, and their son, Jake, to honor Gabriella’s memory through the Smashing Walnuts Foundation, a charity started by the family to raise money for childhood brain cancer research. Ellyn is a fiercely determined advocate for all children, lobbying on Capitol Hill, hosting fundraising events and speaking to community groups about the prevalence of childhood cancer. Before she died, Gabriella vowed her friends and family would “carry on the war” against childhood cancer. Ellyn is more dedicated than ever to doing just that.

Q&A with Ellyn:

What is the best parenting advice you’ve ever received?

My mom would tell me that I didn’t walk, get any teeth and was bald until I was over 1-year-old. We live in a competitive society. We, as parents, read about the milestones our children are supposed to accomplish and feel as though our own child needs to meet or exceed these timeframes ─ especially when we see other children doing so. Relax and remember that our children will meet these milestones in their own time. You won’t be carrying your child down the graduation aisle wearing diapers…they will learn to walk and be potty trained!

What advice would you give to new or expectant mothers?

Record (in writing) the funny things that your children say. Technology allows us to pull out our phone and jot down the funny things they say and do. As your kids get older, they will love to hear the things they said and thought. And, you will love the memories these quotes will evoke.

Describe a favorite mom moment.

The quiet moments when there are no interruptions and we can snuggle together and share the day with one another.

Who is your role model?

My children are my role models. They challenge my thoughts of right and wrong. If they have a “bad” habit, I look no further than myself, as they most likely picked it up from me. My children inspire me to become a better person.

What goals do you have for yourself?

Two weeks after our Gabriella died, we were asked permission to use her name for a House Bill, now known as the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act (GMKFRA), that would give $126 million to the Common Fund for childhood disease research at NIH. Professionally, my goals are to continue to grow Smashing Walnuts Foundation nationally and internationally. And, to insure the GMKFRA is appropriated for the remaining eight years.

What goals do you have for your children?

My goal is for my son to grow up as a happy, healthy and kind person. Having a great foundation for being a good person will lead to a positive and productive life.

Click here to read about the other Moms of the Year!

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