People who Inspire: Emily’s Update

Emily's Update photo 

Last week, my People who Inspire post was about Emily Ruggieri, the six year old Girl Scout with a goal so big it would take an entire country to get her there.

Her Girl Scout Troop #26683 has chosen Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh (CHP) to be the recipient of cookies from their annual cookie sale.

Through the Girl Scout Cookies for CHP campaign, Emily wanted to honor her late father, Ethan Milliron, by filling all 22 patient pantries at the hospital with 1,584 cookies. Ethan had been a patient there and passed away from cancer when Emily was just 18 months old.

After going door to door through the neighborhood, Emily made it her goal to have people from every state in America buying Girl Scout cookies for the cause. She created a map to color the states as donations came in.

Exceeding the Goal

In just the last seven days, following social media, newspaper, magazine and television news coverage, several other Girl Scout troops have joined the effort, all 50 states on Emily’s map are now colored, and the cookie campaign to benefit CHP has gone global.

According to her parents, John and Suzanne Ruggieri, orders have come in from Canada, Jamaica, Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, Sweden, Germany, Israel, Singapore, Malaysia, China, Turkey, Taiwan, South Korea, and Australia – putting today’s tally at nearly 2,800 boxes.

This week has been an unexpected journey for Emily. She’s learned geography and math lessons as orders pile in – and so much about the human spirit.

The Human Spirit in Action

A Facebook page associated with John’s high school alma mater includes his updates on the Girl Scout Cookies for CHP campaign and they have touched people near and far.

One example is Lia from Florida who shared one of those updates. Her friend Robert in Rhode Island was moved by this effort and posted that he grew up watching his twin brother Richard undergoing treatment at a Children’s Hospital for cancer.

John said, “Richard saw his brother, Robert’s post and sent me a private message. He shared that he’s now a teacher at a school in Jamaica. He’s also a marathon runner and does so to raise funds for a foundation he started to support the school.

Richard understood this effort on both a personal and professional level and reached out to his friends, resulting in donations from six new states.”

Francisco is a friend of John. He grew up living in several countries, including Ecuador where his mother leads a mission. Now living in Maryland, he called John from the hospital bedside of his wife.

“She was hospitalized because her heart stopped beating. Francisco has the flu and he calls me. ‘I saw this on Facebook and I want to make a donation. This means something to me.’ That he would put his own problems aside to stop and support this effort. This is truly the human spirit in action,” John remarked.

Stories are arriving by mail too as John said that most of the donations coming in have included cards with notes for Emily. One of those cards came from an 11 year old boy who wrote on behalf of his siblings. He shared that $4.00 of their donation came from his brother, Emmett, who gave what was in his piggy bank.

The Cause

“The Girl Scout Cookies for CHP cause is all about making life a little better for the patients and their families. Family members who are there all day, like Suzanne was for Ethan, know what it’s like to have to spend $1.75 in the vending machine so that they don’t have to leave the patient’s side to get something to eat.

The patient pantries on each floor are helpful, but they have just some basic items like crackers and cereal, never anything fun like Girl Scout cookies. The kind of treat that makes you smile,” John said.

Like the messages being sent from people everywhere who are supporting the cause.

It was Martin Luther King Day when Tom read about Emily’s story in the local newspaper. He tore off the day from the Joel Osteen calendar his wife gave him for Christmas and sent it to her with his donation. It read – If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly. – Romans 12:8

Later in March, with continued support, the Girl Scouts will load their cars with more than 3,000 boxes of cookies for Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh.

When they do, they’ll be delivering more than cookies. They’ll be taking the kindness of people from all over the world to patients and their families. And they’ll do it gladly.

To donate through February 15th, email John at GSCOOKIES4CHP@GMAIL.COM

Cookie booths are also being set up in Greensburg, PA at the following locations – Friday, Feb. 28th from 6pm-8pm at Lowe’s in Greensburg; Saturday, March 15th from 4pm-6pm at Hempfield Giant Eagle; or Sunday March 16th from 2pm-4pm at Hempfield Giant Eagle.








  One thought on “People who Inspire: Emily’s Update

  1. John Ruggieri
    January 27, 2014 at 12:14 am

    On Thursday evening, January 2, 2014 we were sitting in the living room discussing Emily’s goal this year for selling Girl Scout cookies. Suzanne, her Mom, shared the story with us how she and Ethan used to stockpile GS cookies before entering CHP for a lengthy stay and how disappointed they would feel when the cookies ran out. Emily looked perplexed at the idea and asked, “why did you run out? Couldn’t the girl scouts bring you more cookies?” A light bulb turned on above all of our heads simultaneously.
    As a family, we agreed to set a modest goal of 200 boxes that we, along with Emily’s GS troop, would personally donate to CHP. By the end of the first weekend of door-to-door sales, and phone calls and Facebook messages to friends and family, Emily had already surpassed her goal. Together, we all decided that we had a cause many people could relate to, and therefore, raised our goal. We put a call into our personal connection at CHP to find out how many pantries are in CHP. With 22 pantries and 12 boxes in a case, Emily thought we should put two cases into each pantry. An article was placed into our local newspaper, an interview ran on a local television station, and before we knew it, we reached 11 cases per pantry in approximately 3 weeks.
    Our daughter Emily has learned so many valuable lessons throughout this process. Chiefly, that despite losing her father Ethan at such a young age, she can still have a relationship with him by giving back to the people who cared for him while he fought to stay alive. I am proud to say he is alive and well inside this beautiful, little angel. She has also learned that even though she is small, she can inspire an entire country, and even the world to do something amazing and selfless for one another. The world is a dark place, but her light can be a beacon to all who will allow its light inside their hearts.
    As parents, we have learned that encouraging your children to dream big, and putting everything aside to enable them to do accomplish that dream, is the most fulfilling, worthwhile endeavor a parent can undertake. We have also learned that by making a project such as this a fun, engaging, and educational can bring a family together, and bond us together with a whole new level of intimacy.
    We are humbled by the outpouring of support, and will continue to seek as many donations as possible through Feb. 15, to not only continue to honor Ethan and support Emily and her troop, but to draw attention to causes near and dear to our hearts. More people need to know that these pantries at CHP exist and need stocked with healthy foods and tasty treats! Greater awareness of Osteosarcoma is also at the heart of this mission. This childhood bone cancer requires exposure by causes such as this one, so more people are aware of its costly effects on the children it affects.
    In closing, our family wishes to express its deepest gratitude to all those who have donated. We also hope more and more donations come in so that that the impact of the delivery will be felt on such a scale that it will be impossible to ignore. The more donations, the greater the impact. The greater the impact, the more awareness to the cause as a whole, as well as to Osteosarcoma. We will continue to pray for all the patients of CHP, especially those who are suffering from this dreadful and deadly illness. We will also pray for the donors, the would-be donors, and those who have yet to make a commitment to this cause. We have received donations ranging from 1 box ($4) to 320 boxes. So please, consider joining this cause today!
    Love, John, Suzanne, Emily, and Gabriel Ruggieri

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