COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Throughout the month of March, we are highlighting the finalists for our NBC4 Remarkable Woman award. These women make great contributions every day to our local communities.
In 2004, Ellie Hite created the AngelWorks Foundation, its mission, to give central Ohio families a merry Christmas, but that mission has evolved over the years to advocate for families battling childhood cancer.
When Hite established the AngelWorks Foundation, her sole focus was to provide Christmas gifts to families facing financial hardships. But that focus shifted several years later, with one phone call.
“There was a young man on the other end of the phone and he asked if I would help pay for his funeral,” said Hite.
That young man was Joe Friend, who was battling osteosarcoma a type of bone cancer.
“I felt very unqualified to have that conversation,” stated Hite.
But she agreed to meet with him.
“In meeting with him and talking with him, he really wanted to try to do something, to help raise awareness,” Hite explained.
And through Friend, Hite learned about the need for funding in the fight against childhood cancer.
So, together, they traveled and spoke to anyone who would listen, during the last few months of Friend’s life.
“So, when he died, he asked if I would keep doing what he was doing,” recalled Hite. “I already had AngelWorks. So, we just changed all of our bylaws, made our focus childhood cancer.”
Raising awareness, advocating, and providing support for families, including covering funeral costs.
“I had no intentions of paying for kids’ funerals,” expressed Hite. “After each one, I would insist, I would proclaim, that I was done, that I was not going to pay for another funeral. And I finally threw the towel in one day and realized that, while it’s a very difficult thing to do, that it certainly needed to become part of what AngelWorks did. And that I needed to embrace it, instead of continuing to push away from it.”
Now, under Ellie’s direction, AngelWorks pays for multiple funerals each month, providing financial support for families in their darkest hours.
And has helped hundreds of others, who continue to fight for their children’s lives.
“I have a sign in my bedroom, that says the two most important days in your life are the day that you were born, and the day that you learn why,” stated Hite.”Every child that I meet, I realize, that child is my why.”
And why Hite continues to advocate for more funding and better treatment options until a cure is found.
“There’s one day where I would like to retire from working, but I would never retire from this,” said Hite. “I can’t imagine ever a day in my life that I wouldn’t still want to be involved and do this.”
Meet our third Remarkable Woman next Tuesday at 5 p.m. Each of our finalists is being considered for Nexstar’s nationwide 2021 Woman of the Year.