Gabriella Miller, 10, Dies Following Battle With Cancer

Gabriella had been living out all of her dreams over the past few months.

Monday, Oct 28, 2013  |  Updated 7:19 PM EDT
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10-Year-Old Girl With Brain Cancer Reaches Her Goals

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10-Year-Old Who Started a Cancer Charity Dies

Gabriella Miller, who wrote a book and started a cancer charity, has died nearly a year after she was diagnosed with brain cancer. Now people all over the world are reaching out to a Leesburg community to show how she has touched their lives. News 4's David Culver shows how they are honoring a brave girl's legacy.

10-Year-Old Girl With Brain Cancer Reaches Her Goals

Gabriella Miller didn't let brain cancer stop her from reaching many of her goals this year -- including writing a book and graduating college.
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The 10-year-old Loudoun County girl who served as an inspiration for many after making a checklist of dreams following a cancer diagnosis has died.

Gabriella Miller was diagnosed with brain cancer and had been living out her dreams over the past few months.

"It is with the heaviest of hearts and the greatest of love that we share the news that our daughter Gabriella passed away [Saturday] night," read a Facebook post from her family.

The organization "Tell Me Town" posted a picture on its Facebook page in memory of Gabriella, who died just before midnight Saturday. Earlier this year, Gabriella co-authored "Beamer Learns About Cancer" for Tell Me Town to help other children cope with cancer.

Gabriella called herself a "warrior," a nickname she didn't shy from. In an interview with News4's Shomari Stone, she used a frying pan to smash a walnut -- a representation of her brain cancer.

"I want to smash that walnut. That's the point of my foundation. Smashing out childhood brain cancer," Gabriella said. "I'm gonna keep fighting, I'm gonna keep smashing these walnuts 'til they're gone."

News4 traveled with Gabriella earlier this month as she checked off "graduate from college" from her list of dreams.

"The president of Shenandoah University saw my writing in my book I just published, she saw that I was only 10, she read some of my poetry and saw me speak and she decided to give me a degree," Gabriella told News4 at the time.

She spent a day at Shenandoah University, getting a student ID, dissecting a frog, attending classes, and receiving an honorary Bachelor of Arts degree at the end of the day.

"She's really an inspiration," said University President Tracy Fitzsimmons that day. "Even as she's doing the learning process, even as she's thinking about, 'What medication do I have to take [the] next hour?', she's got incredible perspective."

Before her diagnosis last year, Gabriella had been growing her hair to donate it to Locks of Love, a group that collects hair to make wigs for children suffering from cancer. After she was diagnosed with brain cancer, she took time from her treatment to contribute to a letter-writing campaign to raise money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation, the Washington Post reported in December 2012.

Her parents posted on Facebook that on Friday, Gabriella understood what was happening to her.

"Gabriella was... angry that she was dying. This was not fair and not OK," her parents wrote. "She had plans and goals for herself that she knew would never be realized."

But she knew that she wanted her family to go on without her, insisting that they still take a planned Disney cruise, and "whenever we go to Disney World, the first ride we have to go on is the Haunted Mansion, five times in a row...."

Gabriella's family donated her tumor for cancer research, and her family asks that mourners "do something, anything, in honor of Gabriella so that other children, their family and their friends don't have to go through what we have and are going through."

Her family has created the Smashing Walnuts Foundation in her honor.

A memorial service will be held at Heritage High School in Leesburg on Wednesday.

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