‘A Chill Day for Children’ honors Sweet G’s breast cancer fight

Published 10:17 am Saturday, October 9, 2021

LAPLACE — The family of Gaynelle Perrilloux Ellis memorialized her strength and courage with an event that emphasized breast cancer awareness while supporting the community through one of life’s biggest storms.

Gaynelle passed away on February 6, 2020 at age 51 following a five-year battle with breast cancer. The first “Sweet G Pink Day Celebration” took the form of a memorial walk through Reserve in October 2020. This year, Gaynelle’s family honored her memory by preparing food for 500 individuals impacted by Hurricane Ida.

Meals were distributed at East St. John Preparatory Academy in LaPlace last weekend.

The event, called “Chill Day for Children,” placed a special focus on the littlest members of the community who have had their lives turned upside down since the storm. Each child received a gift bag with cookies, chips, candy and a coupon for a free Jr. Frosty at Wendy’s. Children also enjoyed frozen slushies, music and entertainment from volunteers dressed in zany clown costumes.

While most hurricane relief initiatives have had a focus on adults, Gaynelle’s husband, Lamar Ellis, said it’s important to remember that children are also bearing the emotional impact of the storm.

While handing out snack bags to instill happy childhood memories, Lamar was reminded of how Gaynelle went above and beyond to care for everyone around her.

She was the glue that held her family together, and she blessed every last one of them with Sunday meals, heartfelt talks and unconditional love. Her nurturing personality earned her the nickname “Sweet G.”

She brought the same positive energy to her career at Ochsner, even while fighting for her own life. During an Interview with L’OBSERVATEUR in 2019, Gaynelle said having cancer taught her to live every day to its fullest and never take the little things for granted.

Showing the importance of “everyday love” was a focus for Lamar during the Sweet G memorial event.

“Looking at the area after Hurricane Ida, we asked ourselves how we could continue to raise awareness for breast cancer and support Gaynelle’s walk of courage and strength. The hurricane is a devastating situation. Our own homes were damaged with floodwaters, so we are rebuilding along with the community,” Lamar said. “We decided to try something different. We can wear pink for breast cancer with the awareness aspect, and we can also show the strength of Gaynelle by helping out the kids she loved so much.”

Those who knew Gaynelle remember her as a devoted mother and grandmother, Lamar said.

He added, “When you do something to demonstrate Gaynelle, you do something that demonstrates love and something that demonstrates support to the community. If you want to specialize it, you do something dealing with kids. Gaynelle genuinely loved people and had a special place in her heart for children.”

The Chill Day for Children turned out to be a joyful event. Even though it was held in a drive-thru format, some families opted to get out their cars and participate in the fun.

Elements of breast cancer awareness were also present. Frozen cup treats were pink, and each goodie bag had inspirational stickers that delivered messages of love, support and courage. “All Good Energy” was a motto not only for the event, but also in Lamar’s personal life.

The Chill Day for Children also saw support from elected officials, including Parish President Jaclyn Hotard, Sheriff Mike Tregre and District Four Councilwoman Tyra Duhe-Griffin.