Morgan Eller has a support system at Virginia Wesleyan like no other, she has opened many of our eyes to the truth and difficulties surrounding Cystic Fibrosis (CF) and now she is breathing with new lungs.
Morgan and her brother, Meade Eller, were diagnosed with CF at birth. In August, Morgan traveled from her home in Virginia Beach and spent two months in Durham, NC waiting for a transplant.
“[Morgan] was getting ready to go through the double lung transplant. However, in the middle of October I received word that while Morgan was waiting for a lung donor, she suffered from a respiratory failure and was fighting to stay alive,” said senior Christy Kyrus, Morgan’s friend and Sigma Sigma Sigma Sister. “Two days later, on Oct. 20, our prayers were answered and she immediately went into surgery and received her new lungs.”
“It was a scary thing for all of us here to know that,” said Jasmine Rivera, Morgan’s sorority sister and friend. “But Morgan is a fighter and she didn’t give up, she got her lungs and has already started rehab, so she could be back home by Christmas and be back in school by next semester,” said Rivera.
“Morgan is determined. It is amazing how much determination she has,” said R.J. Bonniwell, sophomore. “Currently, she is breathing on her own and all of her tubes [from surgery] are gone.”
Bonniwell currently holds the titles of Risk Management and Brotherhood as a brother of Phi Kappa Tau. Last semester, Phi Kappa Tau raised $450 by selling shirts to support the fight for CF.
Morgan is set to graduate Virginia Wesleyan in the spring as a recreation and leisure studies major.
“I remember one day she invited me back to her room. At this point I had no idea what was wrong with her,” said Kyrus while reminiscing about their childhood together. “I went back to her room and saw IV bags, medicine, etc. all over her room and it caught me off guard. She said she could trust me and she wanted to tell me what she had and why she was always missing school. I knew from that moment on that I wanted to do something, anything, to help her.”
To show their support Kyrus, along with Riviera and Bonniwell, went to the Cystic Fibrosis Benefit Auction and Dinner on Nov. 15 at the Founder’s Inn located in Virginia Beach.
“The benefit was attended by [us] and one alumni. We each purchased a rose for $25 for the cause,” said Bonniwell.
Phi Kappa Tau men and Sigma Sigma Sigma women have attended the Walk for CF at the Virginia Beach Oceanfront and will be attending in the future. Both organizations are involved with charitable efforts for the fight for CF.
At the Virginia Beach walk this past year there was a powerful moment between Kyrus, Rivera and Eller.
“Last year at the Great Strides Cystic Fibrosis walk down at the Oceanfront, Morgan pulled Jasmine and I aside,” said Kyrus. “She explained to us that since she has a certain type of CF she cannot be around others that have CF, because it will get both her and the other people around her extremely ill. She then began to explain to us that there is a ceremony called the ‘65 Roses’ ceremony. Each person who has either passed away or is still suffering from Cystic Fibrosis is honored with a single red rose. She was upset that she could not accept the rose herself, but asked if Jasmine and I could go together.
Rivera and Kyrus went up after Morgan’s name was called to receive her rose.
“I remember as we waited for her name to be called, I turned to Jasmine and said, ‘We aren’t going to cry. We are going to stay strong for Morgan.’ When Morgan’s name was called at the ceremony, I remember grabbing Jasmine’s hand as we walked together to the stage. We accepted her rose on her behalf, and naturally we began to tear up because of how emotional the ceremony was.”
After we received the rose we walked back to where the rest of our sisters were.
The Sigma Sigma Sigma sisters wanted to recognize Morgan with a smaller rose ceremony since she could not attend the big one. The surprise included each sister that was in attendance handed Morgan a rose and she ended up with a bouquet of roses.
“Morgan’s face was just in shock and awe. She was speechless, and had to put on her oxygen supply so she could breathe while she was crying. It was a beautiful moment,” said Kyrus.
At the end of Morgan’s rose ceremony line Kyrus and Rivera handed her the red rose from the ceremony.
“We both handed it to Morgan and she just fell into our open arms and could not stop crying, which obviously made us all cry and the Sigma Sigma Sigmas and Phi Kappa Taus surrounding us made the moment powerful.”
“If I had to say one thing to Morgan at this very moment I would tell her how extremely proud I am of her. She truly lives up to her nickname ‘Amazing Morgan,’ said Kyrus. “I cannot wait until the day where she is back in this area so I can tell her how much of an inspiration and role model she is for me. She is planning to be home for Christmas and I cannot wait to hug her again.”
Members of the VWC community plan to honor Morgan and recognizing CF at the Men’s Basketball and VWC Hall of Fame Game on Jan 25th.