gmhTODAY 01 gmhToday Mar Apr 2015 - Page 50

gilroy everyone has a story Santa grants wish for precocious little girl M With the help of a prosthetic leg, she can move around freely and her life has been mostly hospital free. Written By Crystal Han 50 eet Ella Rodriguez, a bright and outgoing 11-year-old girl. She loves sports and her typical week is packed with dance class, golf practice, and drum lessons. Looking at her, you would never guess that she is a below the knee amputee. She makes the challenges of being an amputee look easy. Ella was born with clubfoot and Fibular Hemimelia, a condition that causes a shortening of the fibula. Her parents, Susan and Michael, were faced with the incredibly difficult decision of whether they should try to save Ella’s foot or amputate it. When she was nine months old, after noninvasive attempts to correct Ella’s foot failed, they decided amputation was the best course of action. To this day, Susan and Michael feel that it was the best choice that they’ve made for their daughter. Ella would have undergone 15 surgeries in order to correct her foot and lengthen her leg. The majority of her childhood would have been spent in and out of hospitals. Instead, Ella has been able to enjoy life the way a kid should. With the help of a prosthetic leg, she can move around G M H T O D A Y M A G A Z I N E MARCH / APRIL 2015 freely and her life has been mostly hospital free. Although Ella never let her disability stop her from participating in sports, it did keep her from improving as much as she’d like. At times, she became frustrated that she couldn’t run as fast or balance as well as her teammates. “It really limits me sometimes because I can’t do very much,” she explains. Ella wished that she could have some- one that understood exactly what she was going through. In December 2013, she wrote a letter to Santa expressing her wish to have an amputee friend just like her. For Susan, who had been searching for a friend for Ella for months, it was heartbreaking to read. She posted Ella’s letter on Facebook, hoping it might help. To their delight, Santa fulfilled Ella’s request. Ella’s letter received a huge out-pouring of support and caught the attention of O & P magazine, a magazine that specializes in Orthotics and Prosthetics. An anonymous donor from O & P paid for Ella to attend Camp No Limits, an event where young people with limb loss can meet and engage in fun activities. For the first