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Child's simple rules, after her death, lead to challenge promoting kindness across Atlanta

An 8-year-old left rules to live by before she died. Now, they're inspiring the 'Connect with Kindness' campaign at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.

ATLANTA — Ellie Pruitt had a beautiful heart. Her mom, Heather, said she loved everyone.

“I think her mission on earth was to make sure everyone had a best friend,” she said. 

Ellie was an amazing big sister to her 5-year-old brother, Luke. 

“He misses her like crazy,” she said.

They all do.

Ellie’s mom, her dad, Chuck, and her brother are drawing on the courage she showed at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta before her time on Earth ended.

“She would never want us to be sad,” her mom said. “She was going through so much, and she was still thinking about everyone else.”

Ellie loved to dance, despite being diagnosed with juvenile arthritis at 4 years old. In 2020, she got sick again. Doctors discovered a brain bleed in addition to a collection of autoimmune diseases, including Lupus, that were attacking her little body. After six days in the hospital, Ellie passed away on Feb. 6, 2020, at just 8 years old.

That night, her parents went into her bedroom and saw her list of rules that she’d taped to her bedroom door.

  1. Have fun
  2. No fighting
  3. No pushing, shoving or hitting
  4. Always love.

They knew they wanted to share them; especially the first and last rules on the list:  "Have fun" and "Always love." They shared her rules during her celebration of life. Before long, the rules were being shared in the community.

“It just took off; it became our city’s slogan,” Heather said.  

Her rules were on signs at McDonald's, Chick-fil-A, and Brusters. People shared them at school and church.

“It’s overwhelming in a good way,” her dad Chuck added. “These are rules that everyone can use in their daily lives.

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Elle’s rules to live by - that now live on.

“There is so much in our world that is out of control, but me being nice - I can control that,” Heather said.

The Pruitts said it is incredible that an 8-year-old saw the importance of those things. Through her kindness, she is making an impact, even now.

“It sounds so simple, but if people would just do it, what a difference it would make,” they said. 

Ellie’s story and those of many Children’s patients remind us all to cherish the little things many take for granted. Children's Healthcare is kicking off the month of love with #KindnessATL, a challenge for the Atlanta community to take a moment to engage in random acts of kindness. 

Whether it’s simply holding the door for a stranger or sending a note to an old friend, 11Alive is encouraging the community to join in as we reconnect, inspire and challenge one another to "Connect with Kindness."

Here's how it works.

  1. Go to: CHOA.org/kindness
  2. Perform a good deed. 
  3. Challenge your friends, family, and neighbors to do the same. 
  4. Share about it using #KindnessATL.