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Embrace Ella Grace

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Hi everyone,

I'm Mary T. Schmitz,  a family friend of the Olson Family. Mary Kay and I grew up together in Pipestone~marching in the highschool band, singing in choir, playing on the golf and volleyball teams~ all together.  We were re-united when they moved to Rogers, MN with their family.  Eventually our youngest, and their oldest, Eli, would end up in the same class in Elementary School...and they got to swap stories about their trips to Pipestone!

Mary Kay (Burkholder) Olson, Pipestone High School class of 1989, has been in Public Education for the past 23 years~ many will remember her father, Bill was a former Superintendant of Schools and Business Administrator of Pipestone Area Schools and Mom, Jan a Title 1 Teacher.  

Brad graduated from Robbinsdale Armstrong High School in 1991. He too, is a teacher, at Wayzata High School, and a tennis coach. Brad's father, Jim, is a retired food chemist from General Mills and mother, Jane, a Physical Therapist.  A family and extended family of Faithful Servants!

While Mary Kay and Brad are most accustomed to serving the communities in which they live, work and worship, it is with humility that they are stepping into the vulnerable space of seeking our support to help their family through this medical journey that they've been on for far too long.

They were extremely hesitant about the Go Fund Me they thought of countless others who needed this or that, but I shared that many people wanted to help them and this was a way that WE could be the Hands and Feet of Christ, as we are called to BE and DO!

Please join me and my family as we step up and "Embrace Ella Grace" and the entire Olson Family! 

Here is their story:
Ella Olson, daughter of Brad and Mary Kay (Burkholder) Olson was diagnosed with Currarino Triad Syndrome when she was 7 months old.  She is now 8 years old and has undergone 6 surgeries, multiple procedures and is about to undergo several tests in January when they travel to Columbus, Ohio.

This past summer the Olsons went to the Mayo Clinic to try and find some answers for Ella's colon motility problem.  The doctors there hooked the Olsons up with Carlo Di Lorenzo at Columbus’ Nationwide Children’s Hospital.  He is one of the world’s leading experts in this disease and will hopefully find a long term solution to this life-altering colon problem.

The main issue is that Ella experiences pain in her tummy almost everyday.  More than half of her school days, the third-grader heads to the school nurse because she is hurting.  They have done multiple tests and still no answers.  She also has to go to the nurse to self-cath her bladder four or five times daily and in addition, has to spend nearly an hour a night flushing her bowel through a belly-button stoma.   To say she is sick of all this is an understatement.

But recently, over the past six weeks, things have gotten worse.  Ella has had to leave school multiple times because of pain.  And she hates leaving school.  It's upsetting to her to miss the fun things that are going on and get behind on work.  With her increasing absences and with the stress of the situation, Mary Kay made the difficult decision to take a leave of absence from her work at Neill Elementary School to care for Ella.  

Last Saturday, Brad and Mary Kay met with their pastor and were feeling very defeated and were beyond stressed about what the future would hold for them and their family.  Pastor Ben from Northridge Fellowship encouraged them and prayed for God's guidance.  The following day God provided a huge blessing!  While Brad and Eli were at the Vikings game, the Vikings gifted them with two round-trip tickets to Ohio.  They were beyond thrilled and extremely thankful for this amazing blessing!  Now, Mary Kay and Brad can go with Ella to Columbus to visit the specialist. It’ll be an 11-day trip, and they’ll stay at the Ronald McDonald House.  Eli, Ella's 4th grade brother, will remain home with family members.

The Vikings gift was amazing, but this is just the beginning of their financial responsibilities.  Over the past eight years the family has reached its out-of-pocket maximum with their insurance and the upcoming tests in Columbus are unfortunately OUT OF NETWORK, thus, will only be covered at 60%.  The 11 days are just the tests.  They don't know what the doctors will recommend as far as treatment after the tests.  They shared with me that they know God has a plan in all of this.  They just need to TRUST HIM.  

Let's be the Hands and Feet of Christ and help this family.  Please do what you can to EMBRACE ELLA GRACE, Brad, MaryKay, and Eli....holding them in prayer today and the challenging days ahead.  I know they will be eternally grateful!

Mary T. Schmitz

Click here to go to Ella's Caringbridge site


  • Kaia Wilkinson
    • $100 
    • 8 yrs

Organizer and beneficiary

MaryTheresa Brual Schmitz
Rogers, MN
Mary Kay Olson

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