This story ran in the Oct 2nd edition of the Connection Newspaper.
Seven-year-old Ellie Whitfield, who was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in the spring of 2013, is the inspiration behind Ellie’s Hats. “She had no hair so she would wear different hats every day,” said Coakley, who is in his 33rd year of teaching. Ellie was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia a few months before school started and lost her hair as a result of the treatments. As the holiday season approached that year, Coakley decided to purchase hats for Ellie, but that effort grew. “My wife and I thought, ‘Why don’t we get enough hats for all the kids at her clinic where she receives her treatments?’” he said. “We ended up with 140 hats, which were handed out at a Christmas party for the children” at Inova Fairfax Cancer Center