On October 15 the sold-out Nationwide Children’s Hospital Columbus Marathon—the largest running event in Central Ohio—will be held in downtown Columbus. This annual event holds a special place in the hearts of many participants, including our own RUNColumbus teammates. Sarah has raised over $65,000 and runs in memory of her mom, a NICU nurse. Pat is passionate about Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s On Our Sleeves initiative addressing children’s mental health issues. The stories run deep and wide; this year, our teammate’s daughter is the Mile 26 Champion.

Ericka shared her daughter’s story with us and invited everyone to stop at their tent at mile 26.

 “Feel free to come to our tent to watch the race! Ella is decorating her tent with a China theme, as she was adopted when she was 21 months old.  She looks forward to cheering on the athletes and wanted you guys to know you are free to join us any time throughout the day!”

Meet Ella

Diagnosis: Giant Omphalocele containing liver, stomach, intestines

Age at the time of the Marathon: 8

Hometown: Powell, OH

Ella was born in Guangzhou, China, and spent her first 17 months in an ICU with a birth defect known as omphalocele, a type of abdominal wall defect in which the bowel, liver, and other abdominal organs extend into the abdomen near the base of the umbilical cord. Ella underwent closure surgery in China and experienced major complications while her adoptive parents waited to meet her. 

Knowing their daughter’s health journey would be difficult, Ella’s mom, Ericka, contacted the Nationwide Children’s Hospital International Adoption Clinic to utilize their pre-adoption service.  Physicians reviewed Ella’s medical records to develop a care plan, ensuring that her parents were prepared to give the best possible care when she arrived in her new home. 

“The adoption clinic was instrumental in providing valuable guidance to us as first-time adoptive parents,” says Ericka. “You take so many classes, but I learned more in an hour with the clinic than I ever learned previously.”

Once in Ohio, Ella had a long journey ahead of her. She underwent skin expansion treatments for several months. 

“We visited Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon Dr. Gregory Pearson weekly, and Ella became very close to him,” Ericka shares.  “His smile and the time he spent making Ella feel secure, cared for, and comfortable was absolutely indescribable.”

Ella had one final surgery to close her hernia, build an abdominal wall, and remove scarred skin. Now eight, Ella has no lasting side effects. She is a confident and sassy eight-year-old who runs, jumps, and even did her first sit-up! 

“She’s doing so well,” says Ericka. “It’s like it never happened.”

Scroll to Top