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November 2nd, 2021
When Brianna and Andy took their kids sledding in early March, they did not anticipate a fun family outing turning into a nightmare. Their seven-year-old daughter, Ellie, was riding downhill with a friend when their sled hit an icy patch and sent them full-speed into a tree. Ellie was unconscious, missing teeth and had an extensive leg injury. She was taken by Flight For Life to Children’s Wisconsin (CW). Ellie was in critical condition and while doctors did everything they could, they could not save her leg. Through 19 surgeries, the lower half of Ellie’s right leg was amputated. Ellie was in the hospital for over two months while she learned how to navigate losing her limb and learning to walk again.
Eventually, Ellie was able to get daytime passes to come visit her family at RMHC® and it was a welcome break from her daily treatment at CW. She especially looked forward playing at the Lego Station, visiting with staff and, of course, visits to the Magic Room.
For Ellie’s parents, our House has been so much more than a place to stay. Brianna shared, “Ronald McDonald House® is a place that welcomes you as their own. It’s a comfort to know we have a family there. It’s nice to feel like we belong somewhere.”
Ellie continues to adapt to life with her amputation. Some of her favorite pastimes include arts and crafts, reading, telling jokes and playing soccer. She is proud to say that she can play just as well as any of the other kids and even scored the first goal at a recent game.
Unfortunately, some of the kids at school have not been kind to Ellie. Rather than let it get her down, she took part in a school presentation to educate students about bullying and why it’s not okay. If there is one thing Ellie and her mom wish everyone knew, it is that Ellie is still the same girl. She may look a little different than most of us, but we’re all the same inside.
Ellie has exuded positivity and bravery through a life changing traumatic event, which many people would struggle to navigate. “Most kids would have lashed out, cried, hated life. Not Ellie – she doesn’t ever feel sad about it,” said Brianna.