Gabriella Miller: 9-year-old's dream will help 36 more kids to Make a Wish
When we covered our first story on Gabriella Miller a couple of weeks ago, we knew something special was happening.
But no one had any idea that a little's girl burning belief that children struggling with illness have the right to dream would touch so many lives.
Chris Croll's cramped foyer in Leesburg, Virginia was transformed Saturday into a remarkable repository of letters.
For weeks, Croll and a small band of volunteers have been counting, culling and reading.
Seasonal notes to Saint Nick, they're hand written by children from across the country and around the globe.
But they read like dreams instead of superficial demands, because they aren't meant for Kriss Kringle at all.
Only a month ago Croll's dear friends, Mark and Ellyn Miller, learned their vivacious 9-year-old daughter Gabriella had an inoperable brain tumor.
Thanks to the Make A Wish Foundation, Gabriella gets to travel to Paris.
But before going, this thoughtful fourth grader had a selfless epiphany.
She asked for letters to Santa, because Macy's donates a dollar back to Make A Wish for every letter received. Gabriella figured other children struggling just like her deserve their dream.
Well, they blew past their goal of 10,000 letters. Social media made 50,000 a reality.
Then, all expectations were shattered. 100,000 became 150,000, which morphed into more than 200,000 letters.
Sunday afternoon, a moving company donated a truck, the U.S. Postal Service bags and carts, so this avalanche of love could be delivered to the Macy's at Dulles Town Center.
Despite arduous chemo and radiation treatments, this is where Gabriella Miller made her first, public appearance.
Hundreds filled the atrium to support a girl who symbolizes so much of what we admire in the human condition.
What happened next no one expected. One final letter would be read.
"Dear Santa, I'm Gabriella, the one with the tumor. Make A Wish has really touched me."
Cancer makes Gabriella physically weak, her speech altered. But you can hear her strength in every word.
"I want to say one more thing," Gabriella says. "This is my motto and I think you should use it too. You might have a bad day today, but there's always a bright star to look forward to tomorrow. Look inside what's your bright star. Thank you. happy holidays."
It's impossible to calculate a love that starts in a little girl's heart, travels around the world and returns with the immeasurable gift of hope.
Macy's officials were so touched that they donated an additional $25,000 in Gabriella's name to the Make A Wish Foundation. Since each wish costs about $7,500, all those letters and Macy's donation will allow 36 children struggling with illness to get their wish.