A celebration for Ellie
Couple bringing fundraising event to Minot in honor of their late daughter
In 2016, Abhinn Aggarwal moved to Minot from Ontario, Canada to finish his family medicine residency training at UND Center for Family Medicine while his wife, Priyanka Sharma, worked as a Family Physician at Trinity Health. Two years later they welcomed their daughter, Elina “Ellie” Aggarwal into the world.
On Jan. 12, 2019, Ellie suddenly passed away due to respiratory complications from a viral infection. To be closer to family, Aggarwal and Sharma moved to New York state in July but are bringing a special celebration to the Magic City Dec. 4.
A Celebration for Ellie is free to attend and open to the entire community. The event will feature 16×20 canvases for sale for $50 by For Ellie Photography. The canvases will be displayed at the Taube Museum of Art with a drop-in time from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. and the main event will be taking place from 6-9 p.m.
During the main event, treats will be provided by Love Ice Cream and other local restaurants.
“As hosts, we are taking on all of the overhead costs and will be donating every single dollar raised to the Hopeful Heart Project and The Minot Area Homeless Coalition,” Aggarwal and Sharma wrote in an email to the Minot Daily News.
In addition to the canvases and free-will donations, the couple has organized a collection of raffle prizes and the tickets will be available for between $5 to $15 throughout the day.
“There is absolutely no obligation to purchase a canvas or donate,” the couple explained. “We would simply love to see people come together on this special day.”
Aggarwal was always interested in photography and previously owned DSLR cameras. A month before Ellie was born, he purchased a Sony mirrorless camera along with a few lenses to photograph her journey.
“After Ellie passed away, he decided to continue using his photography equipment to capture beauty in memory of Ellie,” Sharma wrote in an email.
The pair had taken time off over the summer of 2019 initially to spend with Ellie before their move to New York state. After her passing, they decided to take the time and planned a 6-week trip to Asia.
“My friend helped us decorate shirts with an elephant logo and words “For Ellie” as a reminder that everything we do is in honor of our baby,” Aggarwal wrote. “Photography has been therapeutic during this time.”
They started two photo series: Aggarwal captured nature/landscape scenes and Sharma took photos of a small elephant statue “for Ellie” in different locations during their travels. The total For Ellie Photography journey can be viewed on their Instagram, https://www.instagram.com/for.ellie.photography/.
Even before they moved out of the state, the couple felt it was important to return to Minot to host a fundraiser on Ellie’s birthday.
“She was a true North Dakotan,” they wrote in an email. “We sometimes joke that Ellie was ‘Minot’s Baby.’ Minot is the city she was born in and where we shared all of our beautiful memories together. It is also the city where she passed and is laid to rest.”
The couple wanted to celebrate Ellie’s memory with a celebration to raise awareness for pregnancy and infant loss and to show their gratitude for the people of Minot.
“Grief can be very isolating,” the couple explained. “When we learned about the wonderful work that the Hopeful Heart Project does to support families, mainly in the Fargo area, we were excited to help them expand their reach to Minot.”
The funds raised during the celebration will be used for “Hope Baskets” for parents who have experienced loss in Minot and help them know they are not alone.
“We are grateful to the Taube Museum or Art for helping us bring our vision to life,” the couple said. “We also truly appreciate all community partners and friends who have contributed their time and energy into helping make our event a success and supporting our cause.”
To learn more about the Hope Heart Project, visit their website https://www.hopefulheartproject.org/. To learn more about MAHC, visit their website http://minotareahomelesscoalition.com/.