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Today's Family Magazine

Seven-year-old girl helps others to color a rainbow

May 22, 2017 11:36AM ● By Today's Family
By Stacy Turner

Seven-year-old Ella Tryon from Chardon is on a mission to make the world a little more colorful.  Her mission began in a most unlikely way.

Her mom, Jackie Tryon, explained, “In July of 2016 Ella was taken to Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland for serious medical concerns.”  The quick visit turned into a hospital stay of several days, and Ella’s treatments kept her confined in her room.  When she got tired of watching movies, Jackie visited the hospital’s playroom to find some crayons for her.  Since Ella was a patient at Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital, she told her mom she wanted to color a rainbow.

Jackie found that the crayons were worn down and broken, and there weren’t enough crayons for every child.  This was very disappointing to Ella.  “I found out later that a lot of the materials need to be thrown out due to cross contamination after being used in a hospital room,” Jackie explained.  “Like most people, that never crossed my mind.”  Ella shared her wish that every child who visits Rainbow could have their own box of crayons.

During her stay, Ella was diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder, but is home and doing much better.  Initially, Jackie told Ella that they would bring boxes of crayons to the hospital every three months when they came in for Ella’s follow-up appointments.  “But that wasn’t enough for her -- she wanted every child that got admitted to get their own box of crayons to keep forever.  “And that is how ‘Help Me Color A Rainbow’ began, Jackie marveled.

Initially, we reached out to family and friends, sharing our story, and the donations started flooding in,” Jackie shared.  Collections began at the family’s home, church, and at local fire departments.  “We had hoped to collect 10,000 boxes by Christmas. We exceeded that goal two months early!”

A Facebook friend and KraftMaid Cabinetry employee in Middlefield was moved by Ella’s mission.  She hosted a company crayon drive that collected 600 boxes of crayons, as well as art supplies for older Rainbow patients.  The company also provided a semi-truck and three people to assist with the crayon delivery to Cleveland.  In late October, Ella fulfilled her wish, and delivered over 13,000 donated boxes of crayons to Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital.

And while Ella won’t be able to meet all the children who will use those crayons, she was blessed to meet a special three-year-old boy, a patient waiting with his parents for a cancer diagnosis.  After giving him a new box of crayons, she was stunned to learn that it was the very first box of crayons he had ever received.  “I haven't met many of the other kids in person,” she explained, “but their parents sometimes let my parents know that their kids got the crayons.”  One such family made a donation of 50 boxes of crayons when their child was released from the hospital.

“Ella’s determination has been incredible and it certainly restored my faith in humanity,” Jackie said. “People we have never met donated boxes of crayons just to help a little girl reach her goal.”  In December of 2016, Ella became the founder of her very own nonprofit called “Help Me Color A Rainbow.”  Ella's new goal is to deliver 1,000 boxes of crayons to every children's hospital in the United States and 5,000 boxes to St. Jude's Children’s Hospital.

“Our list has 214 children's hospitals in it,” Jackie shared.  “So far, we have delivered to Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital, Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital, and the Primary Children's Hospital in Utah.”

The mission is a family affair, with the Tryon’s scheduling family visits and road trips to coincide with crayon deliveries.  “We will deliver as many as we can in person,” Jackie explained.  “To save on shipping costs, we’ll try to have collection sites in each state, and we’ll do our best so that crayons donated at each site remain in that state.”
Ella added, “We have about 300 boxes at our house, and have two collection sites in Pennsylvania for hospitals there.”  Her dream is to deliver crayons across the country within 10 years.  “That gives me one year to do around 20 hospitals -- or 20,000 boxes of crayons per year.”

Jackie noted that they will take a brief break from collecting in the summer, but start again in August to take advantage of the back-to-school crayon sales.  They hope to deliver crayons to five more hospitals in Ohio and Michigan in early fall.  And while they gladly accept any number of crayons per box, they particularly like to receive 24-packs, so patients have the ability to color every shade of a rainbow.

If you’d like to help Ella achieve her big dream, visit ‘Help Me Color A Rainbow’ on Facebook.  Financial donations can be sent to Help Me Color A Rainbow, c/o Ella Tryon, PO Box 1124, Chardon, OH 44024.  All funds are used to purchase crayons.