Smashing Walnuts Foundation was started by 10-year old Gabriella Miller and her family after Gabriella was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor that was the size of a walnut. Gabriella smashed walnuts with a frying pan to symbolize "smashing" her tumor.
Gabriella quickly became a global advocate for children with cancer. She raised nearly $300,000 for children's cancer charities before starting the Smashing Walnuts Foundation, a non-profit whose mission is to raise awareness of the prevalence of childhood cancer and to raise funds for childhood brain cancer research. Gabriella co-authored a book about childhood cancer, earned an honorary college degree and received the President's Medal for Outstanding Service in Cancer Awareness from Shenandoah University. She was awarded "Outstanding Volunteer of the Year" and was a sought after motivational speaker. All of these led to Gabriella receiving a Proclamation, unanimously signed by all 140 delegates of the Virginia General Assembly. Gabriella was featured on CNN, The Today Show and dozens of regional news networks for her advocacy work. Journalists covering Gabriella's story earned five Emmy awards.
After an 11 1/2 month battle, Gabriella passed away in October of 2013 surrounded by family and friends who promised to continue her work. An interview filmed two weeks beofore her death, led to her name being added to a Bill which allocates $126 million for childhood disease research, the "Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act". President Obama signed the Bill into law in April of 2014 with her family at his side. The funds from this Act would go to the Common Fund at the National Institutes of Health. Gabriella's parents and the Smashing Walnuts Foundation are now working to have these monies allocated.
After Gabriella's death, her parents made the decision to donate her tumor-ridden brain for childhood brain cancer research. In August of 2014, exactly ten months after Gabriella died, the Smashing Walnuts Foundation made its first grant in the amount of $100,000 to the doctor that received her brain. The grant, comprised of donations to the Smashing Walnuts Foundation from people around the world, will fund on year of research. Even in death Gabriella continues to help the childhood brain cancer world. The researchers have made discoveries that are garnering international attention.
“You may have a bad day today, but there’s always a bright shining star to look forward to tomorrow.” Gabriella