Meet Ella: Captain America Ballerina

Ella is a giggly, tutu-wearing, Frozen-loving little girl. She was also born with a brain bleed, which later led to a diagnosis of cerebral palsy when Ella was very young. Ashley, Ella’s mom, shared her story with us, and with a group of philanthropic women at a Variety Women Salon event last week.  

Ashley told us that Ella used to experience excruciating muscle cramps and spasms, and had a difficult time opening her hands and learning to walk. When the pain became too great, Ella underwent a major surgery that helped improve her nerve functions, allowing her to relax for the first time ever.

In order to maintain this progress, however, it is necessary for Ella to attend multiple therapy sessions a week. Therapy helps her brain re-learn how to perform certain functions, and also prevents bone and joint malformations as Ella grows. Although this meant that she was driving Ella to either therapy or the doctor five days a week, Ashley shared that she and her husband thought they had it all figured out at the time. Then, Ashley found out she was pregnant with Ella’s brother.

Because she was expecting, Ashley made the decision to leave her job to stay at home and help Ella. Ashley’s husband also switched jobs. Everything seemed to still be going well – until they found out that their new insurance would not cover Ella’s therapy sessions and other necessities, such as a walker and braces.

It was then that Ashley decided to call Variety. She said that she was in tears, and doesn’t remember the conversation other than someone telling her “We’ve got you.” She provided Variety with all of the necessary information, and the approval process went so smoothly that Ella did not miss a single therapy session.  

Now, because Ella was able to stay in therapy, she has started to walk, she can write her own name and she continues to grow without malformations. Ella chimed in to add that she now hopes to be a Captain America Ballerina when she grows up.

Variety Women specifically support the TherHappy program that helps Ella, so Ashley was thrilled to meet with, and thank, them in person. The Variety Women Salon, hosted by Jenn Wardlaw at Third Degree Glass Factory, gave both current and prospective Variety Women a chance to meet and learn more about Variety and our programs.

If you are interested in helping kids like Ella, please contact Brett Schott at Brett@VarietySTL.org.