Life
Teen breaks both her legs at graduation so community gives her a graduation redo she won’t forget
Julie Ellis, who has brittle bones, had worked extremely hard to be able to walk across the stage at her graduation, so when she took a fall it was heartbreaking.
Jonathan Arrastia
06.21.21

Walking Tall

Graduation is a time to celebrate all of your academic triumphs after so many days of neverending studies. It’s a huge sigh of relief for any student strolling the catwalk with pride knowing that they’ve finally reached the finish line. Very few things compare to that sweet moment when your name is called and your brilliance shines for all to witness.

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Some of us don’t get to recreate the same pleasant experience. In Bertha, Minnesota, a teenager suffered a malignant incident that left her unable to walk on stage. Julie Ellis left the tragic scene devastated that she would not see her journey come to a wishful end.

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“I was walking. I felt fine, and then all of a sudden, I felt it snap. And as that snapped, I shifted my weight, and I felt that snap above my left knee. And I felt it down in my femur on my left leg as well.” Ellis said.

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Despite the hardship, Ellis’ fighting spirit was relentless to get back to full health

Ellis is diagnosed with osteogenesis imperfecta, which is also referred to as brittle bone disease. The impact of the fall was extremely hard to watch for her family, friends, and fellow students, and school staff members. She immediately followed up with surgery and therapy in order to regain her strength to try and walk down the runway one more time.

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“Just the hard work, determination, the inspiration, she deserved that closure to graduate with the rest of her classmates,” said Eric Koep, superintendent of Bertha-Hewitt Schools.

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Ellis’s trials and tribulations have inspired many to support her in her rehabilitation. So much so, in fact, that once news spread about Ellis returning home from the hospital, the community rallied for support. Spearheading a surprise graduation was Koep himself who sought aid from those closest to Ellis for even more support.

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It was a moment of pure bliss for Ellis

Tears of joy flooded the floor as Ellis’s beloved friends and family joined to make the surprise event extra sweet and special. Ellis was clearly overcome with emotion as she saw how the fruit of her labor come to life after such a harrowing turn of events. It was the graduation that was least expected, but totally deserved given the circumstances.

“They threw me a surprise graduation, and I had my classmates there, and I actually got to have my tassel [on] and got my diploma, and I graduated high school,” Ellis mentioned.

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The unforgettable moment will be treasured by the community for a long time to come. You can feel the positive vibes emanate from the smiles of all the supporters. No matter how hard it got, Ellis has proven that she’s tougher than her adversity in every sense of the word.

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Ellis will need to undergo one more surgery on her legs before she can make a full recovery. If you’re interested in supporting her journey, be sure to check out her GoFundMe page with this link.

Check out Ellis’ incredible story down below!

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By Jonathan Arrastia
hi@sbly.com
Jonathan Arrastia resides in Miami, Florida. He is a contributing writer for Shareably and enjoys walks, playing basketball, and creating art projects.
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