PATCHOGUE, NY – After the unexpected death of Ellyana DeLaTorre last summer, her family wanted her to be remembered, so they formed a nonprofit foundation to honor her legacy by helping others with struggling with mental health issues.
The Elly CARES, Inc. project, which was launched with fundraising efforts on GoFundMe, plans to hold the first “Stomp the Stigma 5K” Memorial Walk/Run at Shorefront Park in Patchogue on May 28. The event will begin at 9 a.m.
DeLaTorre’s mother, Eileen of Patchogue, said her family was grateful to have been approved for their first fundraising event.
“May is Mental Health Awareness Month, so it will be a great time for the community to show support for people struggling with mental illness and help reduce the stigma that surrounds it,” a- she added.
DeLaTorre’s 18-year-old daughter was an empathetic person who soaked up other people’s emotions like a sponge. She helped friends through very difficult times and often bore the burden of their problems in silence, as she struggled with her own mental health.
After Ellyana was found dead in her sleep on August 5, DeLaTorre, along with her husband, Ozzy, and younger brother, Jevani, were left to mourn her loss, but as they did, they imagined a way that his legacy of care and compassion would continue in the defense of mental health, a topic that so many people don’t know enough about.
She was an incredible athlete and was considered high performer on the autism spectrum, but sometimes her obsessive-compulsive disorder made it difficult for the Patchogue-Medford graduate to get through the day.
“Even though she handled it all, she was never ashamed of it,” DeLaTorre told Patch in August. “I think she just didn’t want to draw attention to herself because she was always trying to help other people.”
“She kind of absorbed everybody’s problems, so apart from what she was suffering from, she also carried everybody else’s problems, so she just…she helped so many people in the community,” added DeLaTorre.
Her family has set up a memorial scholarship fund for the Patchogue-Medford school district, and they also plan to hold events to “raise awareness in the community for people living with mental health issues and foster community involvement to help those less fortunate,” DeLaTorre said.