THE PEABODY ADVOCATE - Friday, August 4, 2017
PLAYGROUND | FROM PAGE 1 with the project from start to finish,” she said. Pantapas described Ella as being “smart and sassy.” “Even as sick as she was, she was always smiling and laughing,” said Pantapas. “She came to school every day she was able, and when she could no longer go out at recess she spent her time reading to the preschoolers.” Julie Butt, who was also a member of the Playground Committee, said it is unusual to be able to build an entire playground within six months. However, she said time was of the essence, particularly for those students who will be moving on to Higgins Middle School in the fall. “The kids needed closure,” said Butt. In addition, Butt said Ella did not falter despite enduring multiple rounds of chemotherapy. “The kid never missed a day of school,” she said. In Ella’s memory, Butt said, for $100 residents can have a 4 x 8-inch brick engraved on the memorial patio. School Committee Member Thomas Rossignoll said he is impressed with the number of residents who came out for the July 26 dedication. “I for one was overjoyed by the outpouring of support for a family that has endured such a tragedy,” he said. “It goes to show the character of our great city; the entire community rallied together to do something spectacular in honor of a great kid that was taken from us way too soon.” Everett Mayor Carlo DeMaria was also on hand to support Ella’s father, Dennis, an Everett police officer. The City of Everett donated a bench for the playground. “Both the Everett and Peabody communities came together to show their love and support for a courageous young girl and her amazing family,” said School Committee Member Joseph Amico. “Ella touched a lot of people in her short time; she and her family will never be forgotten.” After discovering the tumor
A statue of a ballerina stands at the playground site, representing an important part of Ella’s life.
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978-335-9660 A portrait of the late Ella Jade O’Donnell stood on display during the recent dedication ceremony held for the playground named in her honor.
in January 2016, Ella’s doctors were tasked with delivering a prognosis to Dennis and Erin O’Donnell that no parent ever wants to hear: Even with chemotherapy, it would be impossible to remove the tumor. Ella’s courageous battle against cancer ended 11 months later – one month before her 11th birthday. Bettencourt, who attended South Memorial as a child, said
the playground will hold Ella’s memory for generations to come. “As mayor, I have never felt so much Peabody Pride as I have watching our community come together following Ella’s passing,” he said in a written statement. “Together, we were inspired to build this playground – a place where children and families can enjoy being together as much as Ella enjoyed being together with her family and friends. Together we gathered to dedicate it in Ella’s loving memory.” Bettencourt also spoke about how Ella became a beacon of inspiration for those around her. “[She was] a young girl whose love of her family, friends, teachers and the South School seemed to know no bounds,” he said. “Ella’s spirit has touched so many of us in so many ways. It continues to have a remarkable impact on our community – as one needs to look no further than this beautiful new playground.”
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