Canby community comes together to support 16-year-old with cancer
Ellie's Army keeps getting stronger.
When Ellie Shorter was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma last month, the Canby 16-year-old knew she would not have to battle the cancer alone.
But the response from both her soccer teammates and the community has been extraordinary.
"I have a whole army behind me," Shorter said Monday before Canby's soccer practice. "It's just so awesome to see not only my team, but everyone else in surrounding schools with support. It's super awesome."
Shorter's teammates and extended family partnered to create the Ellie Strong campaign. To raise money and show their support, the team designed Ellie's Army T-shirts, hoodies and bracelets.
Their first order was for 611 shirts and 167 hoodies. After those items sold out before they even arrived at the school, the Cougars placed a second order for 700 more.
"Unfortunately, we've done several of these (fundraisers)," said Jeff Saltmarsh, a friend of the Shorters and owner of Frontier Screenprinting in Aurora, who is printing the shirts for free. "But I've never seen anything at this level."
Canby's boys soccer team warmed up in the purple Ellie's Army shirts before last Thursday's match against West Linn. Canby's volleyball team did the same Tuesday night at Oregon City.
"I see people around the school that I don't even know wearing them, and that's really cool to have that kind of support," said Canby sophomore Joey Baguio, Shorter's best friend and soccer teammate.
The shirts ($10), hoodies ($25) and bracelets ($4) will all be sold at Canby's soccer game on Thursday, Oct. 17, which is being dedicated to Shorter.
All proceeds will go to her family. Anyone interested in purchasing any of the items is also encouraged to call the high school at 503-263-7200.
"It's super awesome to see my teammates and my family members come together and do this to represent me and be a part of my tribe," Shorter said.
The Canby soccer program is also hosting a youth camp on Friday, Oct. 18 at 9 a.m. A $20 suggested donation for each player, ages 4-14, will go to Ellie's family.
"This community, its heart always beats strong and we really rally to help people out in need," Canby Athletic Director Ben Winegar said. "It just reminds you of how special this place is. This community comes together in times like this."
Jennifer Sandsness Arritola, another friend of the Shorters and member of the Canby community, created a GoFundMe page for Ellie (www.gofundme.com/f/ellie039s-fight), which raised more than $11,000 in eight days.
"It's literally crazy. It's awesome. I can't believe it," Shorter said. "I have a whole community behind me and that's something I really love about Canby."
Surrounding communities have also reached out.
When Canby's girls soccer team hosted Barlow on Oct. 1, the visiting team gave flowers to the Cougars and a bouquet to Shorter to show their support.
Shorter's club team, Oregon Premier FC, is hosting a youth soccer camp (oregonpremier.elitesoccerclubs.com/camps) this Friday from 10 a.m. to noon in Lake Oswego and all proceeds will go to help the Shorters cover medical expenses.
"It's crazy to see how everybody in each town is supporting her and I think that's just going to make everything so much easier for her to know that everybody is there and thinking of her," Baguio said.
Unfortunately, Baguio knows all about Hodgkin's Lymphoma. Her uncle and aunt died of the disease.
"That puts me in a really good position as her best friend to know what she's going to go through and how to deal with that with her," Baguio said. "I think she's ready to take it on. I want to be there for her and help her through all these tough and difficult times."
Shorter is a captain on the soccer team, member of the cheerleading squad, and leader for the high school's Fellowship of Christian Athletes.
She first noticed a painful lump on her neck when she visited the chiropractor for injuries sustained in an August car crash involving a drunk driver.
After three weeks of ultrasounds, blood tests, a CT scan, and a surgical biopsy of a lymph node, Shorter discovered she has Hodgkin's Lymphoma on both sides of her neck and in her chest.
Shorter did get some good news last Thursday when a PET scan showed the cancer had not spread.
She is able to participate in homecoming festivities this week. Shorter is representing the junior class on Canby's homecoming court.
Next Monday, Ellie will be admitted to Doernbecher Children's Hospital in Portland for four days to have a bone marrow biopsy to determine the stage of the cancer, and begin chemotherapy treatments.
For updates on Shorter, go to www.caringbridge.org/visit/elliesfight.
"It's really cool to see all the lives I've touched, and I want to continue to do that," Shorter said. "I don't want that to stop."
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