Proceeds from the VANBROS Swimsuit Calendar
will go to the Donald Ross Elliott III Foundation.
On December 25, 2010, Donald "Ross" Elliott III was a seemingly happy, HEALTHY 2 1/2 year old. He opened Christmas gifts, ate candy, terrorized the cousins, and had a terrific, NORMAL day, at least we thought. When we put him to bed that night, he began to cry and say that his leg hurt. He continued to toss and turn for the next several hours without sleeping, so Chris & Aixa made the decision to take him to the emergency room. At that time, they thought his bowels were bound, so doctors sent him home with stool softeners. For the next 8 hours or so, he continued to toss and turn and complain of hurting. When he started to run a high grade fever, he was again taken back to the hospital. At roughly 1:00 a.m. on December 27th, my daughter-in-law called to relay the devastating news that the doctors were going to admit our precious Ross and would be testing him for Leukemia.
There are no words to explain what it's like to see your "best little friend" laying in a hospital bed and crying out in pain whenever someone tried to move him, or to see your son & daughter-in-law with tears running down their cheeks and quickly brushing them away so that they could be strong for Ross. Even so, he would turn to us, probably 100 times a day, and say "I love you". It's almost like he knew we needed his words of encouragement. It was quickly determined that Ross had a fairly rare type of cancer known as AML-M7 and that in order to survive, he would need a bone
Over the next 8 months, Children's Mercy Hospital became Ross' home-away-from-home. He called it his apartment. There were some pretty scary times at first, but then the chemo began to kick in and he would run the halls wielding a sword & taking on anyone in sight, or giggle as he shot nerf bullets at the doctors & nurses. He never met a stranger and he quickly made a name for himself on 4 Henson.
A bone marrow donor was found and, in late May, Ross underwent a bone marrow transplant. We were told that he would be in the hospital for roughly 6 to 8 weeks, but being the little warrior that he was, he made it home in 4 weeks. His time at home was short lived though. Complications set in and he returned to Children's Mercy where he earned his angel wings on September 1, 2011.
We still miss our amazing little guy each and every day but thank God that he was loaned to us for 3 1/2 short years. He was such a loving and caring child who, up to the last minute, continued to tell us "I love you from here to the moon & back, and that's a lot". He is no longer in pain and is spreading sunshine all over Heaven. We also realize how blessed we are to have such wonderful friends to lean on. We had people all over the world praying for Ross and our family. Because of him, a not-for-profit group was formed called Our Crowning Glory and they brought a wagon full of gifts to him each month in order to bring a smile to his face. This group is made up of present & former Vanbros titleholders, contestants & friends and will continue to help other children who are fighting their own battle. The Donald Ross Elliott the 3rd foundation has also been established in Ross' honor and proceeds will go to help put young people who have won their fight with cancer through college. We are so pleased that VANBROS will be adopting this new foundation as it’s first official charity.
We love you from here to Heaven & back, precious Ross, and that's a lot!
Chris, Aixa, Chris Jr., Gimmies, Andrea, Luke,
Keith, Brandy, Payton & Riley