The holidays were a little brighter for two local families, who were given the gift of love and encouragement when their homes were transformed with beautiful Christmas light displays.
The Draughon and Pacini families barely could give the holidays a thought as they were in the midst of caring for their daughters. Ellie Draughon was receiving cancer treatments, and Bella Pacini had undergone a life-saving liver transplant surgery. Both girls returned home from the hospital to beautiful light displays!
At age 6, Bella was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and later primary sclerosing cholangitis. The 14-year-old Etowah High freshman has struggled most of her life with health issues relating to her liver problems.
During the past two years, Bella’s condition began to worsen, and she needed a new liver. Last year, she was placed on the liver transplant wait-list on Feb. 20, and got her new liver on Nov. 19. After successful surgery, she was released from the hospital on Nov. 29.
Before she came home, Cherokee County firefighters, and country music star and Woodstock resident Mark Wills, decorated her home. Bella’s homecoming was even more special with the surprise of a beautifully lit home, all ready for Christmas. Shine, a local company that installs Christmas lights, also stepped in to help.
Ellie, the youngest of four children and a senior at Woodstock High School, was diagnosed with osteosarcoma last summer after complaining of joint pain and swelling. When friends and neighbors heard about her diagnosis, offers of help poured in.
“We had so many friends, family members, neighbors and strangers who wanted to help,” said Brynn, Ellie’s mom. “We only asked for prayers, but everyone desired to do more. Christmastime is Ellie’s favorite time of year. It has always been her dream to have a yard full of lights for the holidays, so friends began a fundraising campaign and, with the help of Abulous Lighting, Ellie’s wish came true.”
While Ellie was gone much of the month for chemo treatments, she enjoyed coming home to the brightest home on the block.
“While having a child diagnosed with cancer is one of the worst things that can happen to a parent, the flip side is that you get to see a beautiful side of this world as people rush in to help,” Brynn said.
The excess funds raised to fulfill Ellie’s wish were sent to Cure Childhood Cancer, an organization near and dear to her heart.