The news that Ellie White required a more complicated medical procedure in Columbus, Ohio in order to save her life spread through our community like wildfire. Anyone who is even moderately plugged into the goings-on in Montreal knew that this poor child had gone through a bone marrow procedure a few years ago with the hope that her leukemia would be vanquished. Regrettably, it didn’t work. Now with the news that the cancer was back, a collective sigh could be heard throughout the community, parents thinking about the lengths they would go to save their children and children feeling an incomparable sense of helplessness.
When my 16 year old daughter, Jacqueline, heard of Ellie’s plight she turned to me and said, “OK Dad, what are we doing?”, not how much are we giving, she wanted to do something more. So one thing led to another and I agreed to co-chair the JPPS-Bialik Secondary Legacy fund project-the proceeds of which will be split between Ellie’s fight and a scholarship fund for less fortunate kids. Recently, I went to the school to speak with the Secondary V students and I told them the story of Sam Bronfman and his response when called upon to help the fledgling State of Israel. You see in the early '50s, Mr. Sam, as he was known, travelled with a young Israeli politician by the name of Shimon Peres to Ottawa to purchase military hardware from the Canadian government. After Mr. Sam had negotiated the deal, on their drive back to Montreal, he turned to Peres and asked if he had the funds to pay for the arms. Peres sheepishly admitted that he did not and when Mr. Sam pressed him as to where he expected to get the million dollars required, he said confidently, “from you”. Mr. Sam, then through his wife Saidye, convened a dinner the next evening for 50 of the community’s wealthiest members and the money was raised. I told the Secondary V students that this was their time, they were the graduating class of the school that Ellie attended and this was their opportunity to shine and to do whatever it took for Ellie.
Between now and the time they graduate in June, we will be holding several fundraising initiatives to raise money for the Legacy project. We are hoping to engage members of the community outside of the JPPS-Bialik family and to challenge the graduating students of other schools as well. The first event will take place on Christmas Day, December 25th, which happens to coincide with the fourth day of Chanukah, where we will be “Tubing for Ellie” up North. We hope to have everyone who spends the December holidays in the Laurentians join us. We are also hoping to hold an event involving the Montreal Canadiens in the new year. We will continue to do whatever is required to get Ellie’s family to the goal of one million dollars to cover the cost of the procedure. The graduating class of JPPS-Bialik will do whatever it takes for Ellie. Why? Because now is their time.