Supporting soldiers


Community, family embrace role in Elliott’s Army to help Westfield boy battle leukemia

By Mark Ambrogi

At 8 years old, Elliott Ogle is in the midst of a battle with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

Fortunately, Elliott isn’t facing it alone. He has his army.

“That’s why we called it Elliott’s Army because it’s not just one person by no means who is going to get them through what they are going to endure for the next three years,” said Kate Fisher, Elliott’s maternal aunt. “It definitely takes an army to get him through this thing.”

Elliott, a Carey Ridge Elementary third grader in Westfield, was diagnosed with leukemia on Nov. 14.

“It hit me like a ton of bricks,” said Rebecca Ogle, his mother. “Since the doctors did the test for leukemia on Friday night, it made for a very long weekend. It wasn’t until Monday we knew for sure what kind and type. There are a lot of things going through your mind that weekend. There was a lot of praying and really trusting that he was going to be OK.”

When Elliott first began feeling weaker, Rebecca said she and her husband Jason thought it might be a virus, mononucleosis or perhaps a reaction to his Bipolar medication. Sometimes the medication can make his legs weak.

Elliott originally was misdiagnosed as having Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder with an aggressive mood two years before he learned he was Bipolar.

“It was night and day when an autism specialist diagnosed him Bipolar,” Rebecca said. “The world opened back up to us. I told my good friend this summer we were back to normal and then a few months later this happened. It’s been a rocky road with him. He’s our special one.”

Once the 36-month battle plan to fight the leukemia was set, there was a setback in December when Elliott got acute pancreatitis and had to spend more than two weeks in the hospital.

“We’ve learned to take it a day at a time,” said Jason, a mechanic for the Carmel Police Dept. “We learned early on not to get too ahead of ourselves. He went from a rolling along to back in the hospital when his medication caused the pancreatitis.”

Elliott has chemotherapy treatment every 10 days now. At the next stage the chemotherapy will go to once a month.

“He has a port that has been surgically placed under his skin where he gets his treatments through,” Rebecca said. “We’re all looking forward to the day when he gets that removed.”

Meanwhile, Elliott’s family and friends have provided support in many ways. Members of his Westfield Youth Sports football team shaved their heads in support of Elliott.

“I feel grateful for what they did,” Elliott said.

When Westfield’s Little Eagle Creek Christian Church asked for prayers, Carey Ridge classmate Tavian Tinney, 9, stood up and asked the congregation to pray for Elliott. The church’s mission team was so touched they held a chili cook off and euchre party fundraiser on Feb. 21 to help the family pay for the medical expenses insurance doesn’t cover.

“He’s asked for different prayers for people at people at different times. I thought it was great that he did,” said Peggy Tinney, Tavian’s proud grandmother.

Fisher’s daughter Katie, 23, works at Great Clips at 161st Street and Spring Mill Road in Westfield. The hair salon had a fundraiser selling Elliott’s Army bracelets and raised more than $1,000 to help with medical bills. Bracelets are still available for $2.

Fisher and friend, Nikki Mecklenburg, help the Ogles with publicity. Mecklenburg set up a Meal Train for families to volunteer to supply the Ogles with meals when needed. Elliott’s older brother is a Westfield Middle School seventh-grader.

“It’s great help to my sister and brother-in-law because it allows people to go on website and sign up to bring meals,” Fisher said. “My nephew can come home and know there is going to be hot meal waiting for him. Elliott had that 17-day hospital stay. That was huge help with work and school.”

Max Johns, another Carey Ridge classmate, does volunteer work for St. Baldrick’s Foundation, which raises money for childhood cancer research. Johns frequently shaves his head to raise money through shaving.

Johns’ hockey team is having Drop the Puck fundraiser for St. Baldrick’s at Johns’ hockey game at Carmel Skadium on March 8. Elliott will be a special guest.

Elliott, who turns 9 on March 20, said it makes him feel good that so many friends have stepped forward to show support and help.

Elliott has been able to go to school most days but occasionally has to wear a mask to avoid catching viruses from classmates. Elliott also goes to his karate class when able because the kicking and stretching is good for his legs.

“The karate is so I don’t have to do physical therapy,” Elliott said.

Rebecca updates a Caring Bridge site with information on Elliott’s health.

“So she’s not having to text 100 people and everyone can go there and know what is going on,” Fisher said.

Rebecca and Jason don’t know what they would do without the support from family, friends and community. The Ogles, who both grew up in Sheridan, have lived in Westfield for 13 years.

“It’s overwhelming, all the support,” said Rebecca, a certified public accountant. “It’s been amazing.”

Leo Club to hold fundraiser

The Westfield High School’s Leo Club, sponsored by the Westfield Lions Club, is holding an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast at 8 a.m. to noon on March 7 at Lions Club’s clubhouse on 120 Jersey St. in Westfield. There will be regular, chocolate chip and blueberry pancakes. Sausage, donuts, orange juice, milk and coffee will be available. The cost is $6 for adults and $3 for children 12 and under. Children 2 and under are admitted free. A 100 percent of net proceeds will go to Elliott’s Army.