Florida man creates purple light display in honor of mother fighting pancreatic cancer

State / Regional

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – When driving along York Dale Drive in Ruskin, you’ll find a home bathed in purple lights. At first glance, you may think they’re leftover Christmas decorations, but the actual purpose for the lights is illuminating. 

Homeowner Derrick Ewell, a lieutenant paramedic with Orange County Fire Rescue, says he began adding the WiFi-controlled strip of nearly 1,000 LED lights to his home sometime before the holidays. When the project took longer than anticipated, he had an idea. 

“It started a month or so before Christmas. The intent was to get some Christmas lights up and continue the lights throughout the year for special occasions. But as I reflected upon the hard work that I had done, I looked upon something personal to me and it was the difficulties my mom has while she is facing pancreatic cancer,” Ewell said.

Ewell’s mother Sue, who lives in Miami, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer six months ago.  Instead of decorating for the holidays, Ewell decided to honor his mother with a purple light display, which now runs from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. every day.

“She is an amazing person. She has taught me how to do so much. Her inspiration during this cancer and fighting through it, inspired me to get up in my attic every day and continue this process and understand these lights and the connectors. She has inspired me all my life,” said Ewell. 

The labor of love is to bring awareness to the disease. The lights of love are to remind to Ewell’s mother that she is not alone in her battle.  

“It doesn’t matter if you are fighting something yourself. To always support others that are fighting. We really don’t know what these people are truly dealing with on a day to day basis.” 


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