When her son's friend, Jason, was diagnosed with a brain tumor a few years ago, Ellen James brought him a collection of stories on CD to lift his spirits while he underwent treatment. As Ellen takes on Oprah's Pay It Forward Challenge, she uses the same idea to help more sick children.
Ellen—who volunteers at the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival—rounds up close to 200 CDs from the storytellers she knows! Next, she buys 52 personal CD players from Best Buy, which gives her a discount and throws in 200 free batteries. The Timpanogos Storytelling Festival pitches in two family passes to the event, sweatshirts and blankets for each child!
Ellen visits two children at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center to give them gift baskets with the CDs, CD players and festival passes. She donates the rest of the CDs and CD players to the hospital's pediatric unit and to Primary Children's Hospital so more children can listen to them during their stay.
Ellen says she donated the stories because she wanted to make more than a monetary donation. "It's more the idea, I think, of the gift of storytelling to these children and the parents and the hospital staff to help them keep these children not only educated and entertained but to just keep them smiling".